22 Jul 2014

Home(s) — what they are, and when they cease to be

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?


  1. I'm so proud of you dear. coeurcoeurcoeur. Je pense à toi, bises.

  2. Hi! This is very out-of-the-blue, but I love your blog and the fact that you started writing it when you moved away for uni kind of inspired me to do the same, as I'll soon be an international student in the US. Also, lovely and important post - I very much like the idea of a multitude of homes, especially now

  3. whatevermynameonyourblogwasbefore3 August 2014 at 22:31

    I like reading your articles, and I found myself rereading your blog recently, as it feels like reading a friend's diary. (really, it does) The topic you chose for this one is quite interesting. When I came to France, it felt super awkward and surreal. Like, you live in your little bubble, half wanting to settle down, half wondering if you'll ever be able to. People tend to enjoy things from a distance, not really daring to fully embrace them because, well, this ain't home. Yet? As I witnessed in your videos, you managed to live with both of your cultures, make them equally important in your existence. That's not nothing, Gaëlle. I think you're a great human. It took me years to feel French, and I struggle with that still. Maybe it's not about "being" 100% from a certain place, rather than just accepting that this is where the external influence on your being comes from. (This sentence is as vague as my original thought was) But that's not the topic, really, homes is. I am about to leave home (lol, about, if I manage to go through terminale) (lol what is life) (jk really but you know what I mean, you whether have good grades or you go to the international section and get your ass kicked numerous times). And it's not even "home" technically speaking, but as you explained, you get used to it, and maybe it's about the people, the little things, the friends and the high school and all of that "carefree" existence of ours. Yeah, probably. I agree. It's painful sometimes though, and although most of us with "international" profiles, those who wanted to explore the world (or were just blessed with languages) ("blessed", or "mindfucked") rather than settling down are often leaving, on an individualistic level, it's making your soul ache weirdly. And while we both seem to be faced with this issue of identity (and shiz), you left as an adult (kind of, 17-ish? dude there's no freaking difference) and I just arrived as a kid so it's really different and I do feel a bit like you did at first, like lost and a bit awkward. (and she's not even gone yet, the poor kitty) I was wondering recently, was it it like to leave your family? Do you slowly grow apart, the phone calls getting less and less frequent? Or you still feel as connected, at a deeper level? I don't know, it's so scary. "What the hell do I do when people leave?" At the moment my thoughts seem to be "what the hell do I do when I'm the one leaving?"
    Anyway, sorry for the novel I wrote (there might be an as-annoyingly-long sequel) and I hope you're feeling okay.