Sunday, March 31, 2013

whenever I'm with you...

Home. It's such a loaded word.

Both Sara  and Mary have written beautiful, deep posts about what home means to them, and reading those posts I felt both puzzled and inspired.

What is home? Where is my home? Do I belong here, or there, or some other as of yet unseen place?

For the last eighteen years it has meant many different things to me.

I left my childhood home, the building, my family, when I was sixteen, driven by a powerful sense that I  did not belong. I left that podunk town behind and never looked back. I lived by myself. I damn near starved. I traveled, I lived in foreign countries, I got lost and found and lost again. 
If you'd have asked me where home was, I would have shook my head and taken another swig of my drink. By the time I was twenty-one though, I knew. It was a love that dare not speak its name, an idea so unlikely I wanted to keep it all to myself.


Home is not just a country, a county, a city block, a house, a climate, a bio-region,  or a language.  It's not just your family, or your friends. It's not the land you own, or the apartment you rent. It's not the constellations in the night sky, or the taste of the weird fermented foods you eat. It's not the smell of changing seasons that you recognize instantly, or the familiar species of fauna stalking your yard. It's not your childhood things, or your carefully picked decorations.
It's not just the memories you've made and attached to every corner, ridge and field.
It is the sum of all those things, and many more, some strange alchemy of belonging.
As much as I loved my time in Finland, I felt overwhelmingly more at home the moment I set foot on this Island. The moment I saw my husband at the airport and bit into some familiar food and walked down the beach to see my friends.

It was evident in the smell of spring, daffodils and nettles and blooming trees. The warm days and chilly nights. This is my place in space. It seems fitting that it was around this time thirteen years ago that I first came here and instantly, magically fell in love.
I have no words to explain it, but from that first day on, I never wanted to leave this place. Though it took nine years and two more countries, a part of me always new that I would live here one day.  Intuitively, I knew it was home.
At the time it made little sense, I was planning, destined for another life, yet again and again the opportunity to return arose, beckoned, and again and again, I came back, lived, loved and broke my heart leaving.
If you find a home on the edge of the world, against all odds, a place that brings you to yourself, that brings you your love, it seems too much like fate.
So if you ask me now, I can tell you exactly where I'm from and where I belong.
This place and I, we chose each other. Honey, I'm home.


  1. Oh Milla, your words echo deep, deep into my heart.

    I have felt this feeling of belonging a few times in my life (but never in France where I grew up, except on a modest wild island where we went to every summer, for a month that was the only time I felt alive in the whole year) -

    when I visited San Francisco at 18; when I sat on Skeppsholmen, a tiny wild island mysteriously situated in the middle of Stockholm's central bay; when I was walking in the blissfully quiet and luminous island of Venice, floating in a light that is half tender sky, half water; when I was among the ancient trees on the radiant coast of Galiano Island this summer... and whenever I stroll around the streets of Montréal, where I live :o) and which is also and island, in fact.

    Welcome home, dear Milla, and thank you for these wonderfully warm, deeply happy pictures.


  2. Hi sweet dear, I'm glad you found home. And I can't wait to visit one day.
    Belonging. What a beautiful word, and such a powerful thing to be able to say, "where I belong".
    When I consider belonging, I only talk about it in terms of my children. "I belong with my children"
    But "where I belong" denotes equality. I like it more. About a cohabitation of place and person, other persons, experiences and memories and community, a lovely fluidity of things mended together; to make something connect so perfectly as to be able to stay and want to stay together always. I think your island home also knows you belong with it.

  3. funnily enough, after never feeling like i quite fit in anywhere, i found my home in a record store in the greatest city on earth (which ironically was only 20 min from my childhood home) for many years, and from there was able to build the most incredible actual physical home for myself, surrounded by like-minded soulmates. Over time and through the experience i have gained the insight to reflect on the complexity of home and what it all means to me.

    welcome home, milla!! <3

  4. i don't know if you read hila's blog (she is wonderful) but she just posted this (yesterday!) so i will leave it for you here:
    all of these posts have given me a lot to think about, especially at this time in my life where i don't know if i love this place i'm in and want to stay here forever and build a real grown-up's life, or uproot and move to the other side of the world and just see what happens.

  5. My heart sighs with yours for the peace you feel. Welcome home, sweetheart.

    Love you. xoxo

  6. :D i love this! welcome home!