I've been away from here a lot because I've been settling into a new great, big, important space of my life — my first job. It came a little out of the blue; I certainly wasn't expecting to be into permanent employment before having even graduated, but as I often am, I was at the right place at the right time, and got it.
Finding my place into this new space is an interesting journey. I spend half of my day's waking hours at work, so settling in is no small matter. I start thinking about work in my free time, making friends with my colleagues, and being handed responsibilities makes me feel a part of it.
Yet really, what makes me feel at home is the little details. The actual space; the physical proofs of my belonging there. I have my own desk, a computer that answers to my password — stapler, Sharpie, pushpins (mine). I keep humus in the fridge, soy sauce at hand's reach, and a little mess of questionably smelling gym clothes in the bottom drawer (I never said I was classy).
It's a new home away from home, so naturally, I've been thinking about all the others. I'm not the first kid that's taken off home only to realise that messes up a little with concepts of home and belonging — 3CKs have it much worse than me. As places change and add up, though, it is starting to feel like the definitions of home I hung on to are actually very flawed. Flawed, or limited, covering only a fraction of all the meanings that cohabit within these four letters.
There is a multitude of them, partial homes, places that welcome me, places I miss, places that have meant so much for so long that they will always be mine. There is the home that I am building in the incredible city that sees me to sleep every night, full of my student life and adulthood and collections of memories past and new. There is the home that really means mum-and-dad, the home that I associate with high school friends and carefreeness and splendid cooking. There is the home that has a desk and swirly chair and gets my brain to work. There is the partial home that is not really mine, not officially, that I don't want to call home, not really, a home that sticks to me because I just happen to be there a little too often and really, I like it there — your lover's place, your favourite pub, the top of the park at the end of the street.
Except there's a hidden screw that fits this all together, that makes it work, and when it snaps, everything goes to bloody shambles. You can have all the Sharpies in the world, and even highlighters and a swirly chair that doesn't hurt, but the physical can't ever be the be all of end all.
At the wise and old age of twenty and three months, I, Gaëlle Laforest-yes-like-a-forest, having lived long and bright, having moved four times, I have found that home, really, is all about the people.
So what the hell do I do when the people leave?