Home Is Where…?

Home Is…?

Where the heart is? Well that doesn’t help me because my heart has been torn and tacked all over the globe.  Little pieces plastered on the walls of Florence,  Sarejevo and Fukuoka, cities I’ve fallen in love with. People have taken pieces with them, my host sister as she returned back to Japan, my Aunty living in Sydney and my best friend when she studied in England. My heart isn’t held in one place and neither it seems am I.

Where you grew up? Perth holds my childhood memories, my history. But I don’t miss it enough to be home. I miss the people, I miss them everyday, but Perth was my safe harbour. I was anchored to the place, stuck. Eventually sails get feed up of fluttering in the breeze. I needed to catch the trade winds, feel the roar of the fierce ocean and the gust of the billowing winds. It doesn’t matter how beautiful or protected the harbour is, if you stay there forever you never get to be challenged or thrilled. Never get to feel the rush of seeing a new shoreline.

Where you choose? Now I’m trying to make a home for myself in Sweden. I love running in the woods in Orebro, riding my bike to the castle and watching the leaves change to a resilient red. Yet you can’t create a home from sheer force of will. Can I find a job? Can I find enough people I click with? Can I enjoy the Winter? All of these aspects are somewhat out of my control and that’s scary. I don’t have a back up plan, and I don’t want to be a ship adrift, floating with no direction, lost.I guess this is when I need to have some faith and  adopt the Aussie attitude of working hard on the things I can control and not stressing about the rest…’No worries’…’She’ll be right.’

Maybe my sense of home is scattered, maybe my heart is pulled in multiple directions, but just as I’ve left scraps of myself, I’ve also collected pieces along the way.  The Aussie mentality, the values my grandparents installed in me,  the love and sense of self belief my mum privileged me with, the running strategy my Father taught me, the sense of belonging and trust from my girlfriends, the laughs I’ve shared with fellow travellers, songs from my brother, the smiles from my little cousins. These things I pack with me no matter which course I steer or steers me. I might not have a home just yet, but maybe I don’t need one.

A home is where you feel familiar, safe, comfortable. Maybe I don’t need those things right now. Maybe I need to be overwhelmed by new experiences, launched into the unknown and opened up to different ideas. Maybe I need to be brave not safe. Once I’ve crammed in as many moments, pitfalls, adventures and emotions as I can, then I’ll have collected enough materials to settle down and build something worthwhile. A home that makes me WANT to stay at the shore, happily moored at the dock, appreciating the beauty of the sunset without wondering what’s beyond that horizon line…

Advertisements

Pride and Acceptance

Everyone deserves to feel included, accepted and recognised  for who they are. Especially within their own community. Örebro’s Pride Parade was a perfect demonstration of a town coming together in celebration.Örebro showed that it was a community that not only tolerated but supported all of its members, a community that allowed people to be themselves, a community that did not condemn people to the the shadows because they were different.

March

young girlfiremen

Whilst I feel fortunate to call Australia home, I was terribly embarrassed to be Australian on Saturday. Marching in the parade was an activity organised by the university as part of the orientation program, and we were joined by fellow students, policemen, politicians, religious groups, parents with children and the elderly. Even the public transport buses raised rainbow flags the week in advance. Unfortunately, I could not feel proud, instead I felt very ashamed. All of the excuses were insufficient. The smiling children seemed well balanced to me, they didn’t  find it so difficult to accept or understand. What about the elderly people that had grown up in a completely different generation? You can’t push change onto them! Well the many MANY elderly citizens of Örebro that showed up in support proved that idea wrong.

old ladies

old man

I think we are discrediting ourselves by allowing these excuses to still pervade our society. It’s 2015, time Australia caught up with the rest of the world. Whilst homosexuality may make some people feel uncomfortable, that is tiny in comparison  to how it must feel to hide who you are. Feeling uncomfortable is not a valid reason to discriminate against someone who is not causing any harm.

After experiencing life in a place (even for a short time) where you are free to be who you like and aren’t restricted because of your sexuality, gender, ability or religion, I really can vouch for the benefits. People’s rights are both socially and formally recognised. That is important. At the end of the parade the whole town gathered for a free concert in the park. A rapper performed, whilst to the side of the stage someone translated his music into sign language so that hearing impaired citizens could understand. There is a big effort made to ensure everyone feels a sense of belonging. You can be an authentic individual whilst also a member of a group.

parade the girls

For me, I often felt in Perth, that I was not included,  treated the same in a professional environment and had massive assumptions made about what I wanted, because I was a women. That’s a tough pill to swallow. It feels like someone is saying, “This is your home but you’re not free to be who you want, you have to be who we want you to be. ” I love Perth, but I think we all win if we try and empathise more; just because we can not understand somebody else’s experience directly does not mean that we can not try to relate or put ourselves in their shoes, I think that is the essence of what makes us human.  Let’s change our culture so that we are less proud and stubbornly stuck in our ways.  Let’s be open to change, then we will have a legitimate reason to be proud. We will have a community where everyone feels accepted, where everyone has the right to belong, where nobody has to hide.  That’s the type of place I want to live in, and I don’t want to have to travel to the other side of the world to find it.