Tonight, I found myself taking a detour when walking home. On my way to friends I had spotted a neighbourhood that I immediately was drawn too. So on my way back I wandered into it.
The reason I was so drawn to that neighbourhood is that it reminded me of home; not the house I live in now, but the real home I once had. The home I lived in for the first ten years of my life. The home where I got everything and subsequently lost a lot of it too. The home that I since had to leave behind.
I used to have it all; a big family, friends, lots of hobbies and a dog that I absolutely adored. But when my teenage years came things changed. First of all, my parents divorced. It was a painful divorce (as all divorces are), but this one was particularly horrible. It was as if my parents had forgotten completely that there had been a point in time when they had loved each other. In a short period of time they became complete strangers, hurting each other with their words and actions and me and my siblings found ourselves in the middle of that chaos. For anyone whose parents have not divorced, let me just tell you this; when you see that your parents do not love each other anymore, part of you breaks. Because whatever you do, no matter how hard you try, you will always remind one of your parents of the other one. You could look like the other parent, talk like them or have some of their habits that the first parent has come to find annoying; whatever it is, you will remind your parents of each other, something they do not necessarily like. This being the case, as a child you feel torn; torn between being who you are and changing or not expressing certain parts so as not to upset one parent. This is in and of itself quite hurtful already, but unfortunately a divorce never comes on its own.
After the divorce was finalized, one parent was living in a very expensive house with children and a dog. There was simply not enough money to sustain us all and keep living where we lived. So more changes appeared on the horizon. The next big change was that we had to give away our dog, because we were no longer in a position to give good care to her. To this day I cannot remember any other time where I have felt so in pain, so hurt and so utterly desperate. My heart broke so hard I literally could not stand it. I have never cried so much in my life again. And still, that was not the end of it. Because then we had to move. We moved to a cheaper place, cheap but far from my first home. I had to say goodbye to everything else I had in my hometown. Friends, school, neighbours, everything. Even though the promise of keeping in touch softened the edges, it still hurt.
So there I found myself in a new place, going to a new school, living in a new house, missing my old life. I know it was for the best, and I am grateful for everything I still have (both my parents, siblings, a house, safety and lots of love) and everything I have since gotten. However, I have never felt home again. I like the house we moved to, I appreciate it (since all houses where you can safely live should be appreciated), but it never became home again.
But sometimes, wandering through the city I now live in, I find those neighbourhoods that remind me of home. Those places with similar houses, the smell of burning wood in fireplaces, cosy lights being turned on and happy families. They bring back the feeling of home. They remind my heart of what it feels like to be home, although they also remind my heart of the cracks it still holds after the broken pieces were glued together. It hurts, deep in my stomach and in my heart. It hurts yes, but in the best way possible. The pain of what was lost reminds me that I once had it, for which I am eternally grateful.