Thoughts Of Home

Back when I lived in LA I often thought about what ‘Home’ meant.

When I was a kid, it was the house we lived in but also a word mum used interchangeably when talking about Nigeria. I didn’t realise how loaded that one word was until I’d been living in LA for a year or so.

As much as I enjoyed my time there, it didn’t always feel like home and it was often the most basic things that made me realise that. For example, I missed getting on the tube and even more so, getting home the same way after a few drinks. The tube is a real social leveller, everyone, armpit-to-face every rush hour.  

I missed living in a city that has a centre like London. Car-based LA is made up of small pockets of concentrated activity, nothing that generates a throng in the way a British high street does. There’s no Oxford Street. No Hyde Park Corner and therefore no bustle.

But home isn’t just about a familiar energy, it’s about practical things, like knowing where to buy stuff, seeing familiar brands, knowing the social etiquette and of course the language.

Yet even in an English speaking country like the US, I still had misunderstandings, the odd misused word causing confused frowns. 

One thing I realised early on in LA was that it was important to find my tribe because home is also about feeling like you belong and what better way than to have a group of people who have your back, a surrogate community when you’re away from your own. 

I was talking to my mum one day about all of this and she said, in her soft Nigerian accent, “Yes, it’s hard living in another country”.

Her comment floored me as I’d never thought about what she’d given up as an economic migrant to 1960s Britain who’d then given 40 years of her life to the NHS, leaving behind the place she called home, the food, the aromas, the people, the familiarity, the sense of belonging, being surrounded by people who looked like her and coming to a place where people were still adjusting to the discomfort of having the “other” live among them, plus the added challenge of being newly married, raising children and saving in the hope of returning home whilst barely making ends meet.

Just from her saying that one sentence, I learned so much about my mum and the quiet dignity with which she carries all of this. She knows that Nigeria isn’t perfect, that she has plenty to be grateful for in the UK and that after some 45 years this place is home too but she also knows the mammoth adjustment required to live somewhere new.

I pondered with my mum if perhaps “feeling at home” was something you had to generate internally for yourself too. Perhaps this is what people who relocate have to do, create an experience of feeling at home to make being away easier to navigate. 

During this pandemic and the resulting lockdown, many of us have turned our attention to our homes, spruced them up and rejuvenated to make them as comfortable as possible during this challenging time.  

However we achieve it, ultimately all we ever want is to feel at home, feel like there’s a space where we belong that’s warm, nurturing and welcoming. That comes not just from the physical building but the people and the vibe around us. 

Being in LA taught me the importance of that feeling and that it’s something you can create wherever you are. 

My new podcast for creatives, Creative Sauce with Andi Osho has a new episode every Tuesday – come join the convo! Creative Sauce is on all the main podcast outlets: Apple, Spotify and Deezer. There’s more info over on Insta @CreativeSaucePod too.

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