A few years ago just before covid hit, I was sitting at a co-working space and received a text from my friend saying do you want to see Elif Shafak talk. At first, I thought she was joking so I called her to make sure this was not a joke and to my surprise, she confirmed that Elif Shafak was hosting a small event in Islington.
I packed my bag and ran to the venue. When I arrived there were probably 10 seats with 2 seats left at the front. I was so close that I could touch her feet if I stretched my legs. The entire experience was surreal and that was even before she started talking.
Amongst many topics, one of the audience members asked her what she felt about the question "Where are you from?" because she read in an interview that Elif was struggling with that question. Elif confirmed that it was an impossible question for her to answer in a chit-chat setting. The question did not offend her, but it made her feel very uncomfortable because there were so many emotions to grapple with.
I related deeply to that. I was born and raised in France but my soul always belonged elsewhere, but I never knew where until I came one summer to London in 2006 and fell completely in love with the city. The irony is that I always thought London would be a miserable place to be, the rainy and grey weather, and the Victorian houses that all look the same, this was not very appealing to me.
Little did I know that my soul would find its place in London. When I moved to Melbourne and felt severely homesick, I was not longing for my country France. I was longing for the streets of London where you always find a new treasure, a new coffee shop, a new free event, incredible transport, the ability to travel anywhere in Europe so easily, unbelievable exhibitions, and most importantly a remarkable diversity of people from all around the world.
When I walk in the city, I still get butterflies after all these years. I know it sounds cheesy but it's true. I came when the rent was £70 a week for a room in central London and no visa was required. I was broke but I had butterflies in my stomach.
I met amazing people and have encountered the most unbelievable opportunities that I don't believe I could have found anywhere else so I agree with Elif - home is a complex concept and can trigger so many emotions but for me, home is where my soul and my heart resides. I would love to know where home is for you and what that concept means.