Home is where the what is?

My Vida Vegan Con mug finds a new home in Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica

Recently, I posted on Facebook about how great it was to feel at home somewhere. A couple of readers were confused by my statement, which made me think a little more about the meaning behind the word “home”.

For me, the word has always been a difficult one to define when asked, and given my recent move to Costa Rica, it’s not getting any easier.

Panoramic from Signal Hill, St. John's, NL

Where it all starts?

Even at the basic level, when people ask me where I’m from, I stumble. For many, this might seem weird since the answer typically revolves around where you were born. Since I was born in Alberta, Canada, but spent most of my younger years in Newfoundland, Canada, I’ve never been comfortable with using the place I came into this world as the marker for where I’m from. In fact, as the Canadian government continues to promote the tar sands, I feel further and further away from Alberta every day.

So, my home is Newfoundland and Labrador, right?

If you shift from where you were born to where you grew up, then yes, the answer would be that rocky island on the eastern tip of North America. For many, there’s a great deal of pride in calling Newfoundland “home”, so much so that those who weren’t born there (often referred to as Come From Aways, or CFAs, with a mix of humour and criticism) have to go through a ritual to be considered honourary Newfoundlanders. Known as being “screeched-in“, the ritual, like so many others, has a few variations, but the use of Screech, some language lessons, and the kissing of a local creature covers the basics.

Needless to say, I’ve gone through the ritual, and I do like to promote the province whenever people talk about visiting. Of course, it’s not a hard job when you have the natural beauty and unique characters that fill the province.

Citadel Hill and the Halifax Metro Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Where you find yourself?

However, despite my urge to convince anyone and everyone to visit Newfoundland and Labrador, there have been plenty of times when I’ve stalled on calling it “home”. Much to the chagrin of my family, a part of me feels that many of the larger moments of my life have taken place outside of that province, and it is these moments that helped to shape the person I am today.

Sure, growing up in a small town and having easy access to plenty of nature certainly influenced me, but the years I spent in Halifax, Nova Scotia working in the music scene, and later diving into the vegan scene with recipe books and T.O.F.U., have left more easily identifiable markers on the current me.

So, maybe it’s the place where you find yourself that truly deserves the title of “home”?

Pearson International Airport sunset

Where you find someone else?

If that’s the case, then where does the tried and true statement of “home is where the heart is” stand? At times, I’ve certainly found my heart in Halifax, and, at least once, I left it there to pursue other things, but I’ve also left a piece of my heart in plenty of other places too.

At this point, the romanticized version of the traveller probably has you imagining brief encounters in foreign lands and passionate glimpses of what could be frozen in time as a plane takes off, a bus departs, or a train starts down the tracks.

If that’s the way it should be, then I’ve been doing things wrong. Personally, I’ve been more likely to find home in the briefest of FaceTime chats, Skype calls from whatever couch I was sleeping on, and far too many airports for my own liking.

Throughout all of these moments, most of which were far too short, the common denominator was a feeling of comfort.

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Where you feel welcomed

And maybe that’s what it really comes down to: feeling comfortable.

For lack of a better word, I’m fairly comfortable with this idea of home since it’s at those moments when I’ve felt comfortable that I’ve felt good about being somewhere. Sure, there’s something to be said about putting yourself outside of your comfort zone, but it’s always nice to know that you have somewhere to go back to that is familiar. Whether it’s your own bed, the arms of someone you care about, or the streets you know so well from your childhood, it’s a hard feeling to beat.

That’s why, earlier this week, I really started to consider Costa Rica “home” when I finally visited the Feria Verde de Aranjuez. A few minutes into walking around the organic market in San Jose and I felt a little closer to being accepted, and this, dear reader is where the reason for this post on a vegan blog comes in.

It’s not that living here has been terribly difficult as a vegan, especially if I compare it to my first few months in South Korea. However, this weekend helped to illustrate once again that sometimes you don’t realize what it is that’s missing until you find it again. Similar to my first meeting with the veg group in Seoul, South Korea (and many more after that), my first visit to this lovely organic market surrounded by tropical plants helped me realize, once again, that I wasn’t alone.

And, ultimately, that’s what T.O.F.U. set out to do as well.

From the start, I’ve wanted to showcase vegans around the world to help illustrate, both to other vegans and everyone else, that we’re a very varied group of people. Since that first issue so many years ago, the purpose of the magazine has shifted, but today I would argue the main goal is still the same: to give vegans a home. Granted, the more recent issues may make you uncomfortable in some way or another, but it’s simply because I’m trying to open the doors to a bigger audience that is so often ignored.

So, when the new issue is released, I hope you feel like you’ve got a home again. One where there is always something being made in the kitchen, plenty is happening in the living room, and there’s a couch or spare bed to rest your head.

Related Posts

Post Response