Yesterday I was having dinner with some friends from the States at a gastropub in Hampstead, an area of northwest London near where I'm living here. They had both gone to the loo - the woman of the couple had taken their little boy with her so she could change his diaper - and I was sitting at the table watching their stuff, savoring the last few bites of scrumptious bread and butter pudding, and taking in the atmosphere. Side note: I notice that it's slightly easier for me to "justify" being the moment and taking in my surroundings when I'm away from home since, ostensibly, my time is limited here and I might as well make the most of it while I can. So, though I'd taken a book out of my purse, I decided not to pass the time reading. There was so much to observe and enjoy - the decor, the other customers, the smells, the sounds.
Then a Norah Jones song came on. I think it was that one "I don't know why I didn't come . . . " Not sure of the exact title. And it was so comforting and calming. I felt a sense of peace and ease and at-homeness. That album of hers was one of my mainstays my senior year in college, which was another time of transition and confronting the unknown. I listened to it over and over again in my cozy room. And now here she was soothing me again, in a pub in a foreign country, as I was out to dinner with friends from home. Granted, Hampstead is known for a preponderance of Americans in its population and people speak English in London so it's not as jarring or exotic as a trip to some other foreign countries might be, but I am still away from home, away from my community, away from the city I know well.
After I parted ways with my friends, I headed up the hill to the bus stop and while I waited there I noticed the lovely evening light on the buildings, and the peaceful feeling on the street, and I enjoyed the fact that, having been here for two and a half months now, there are areas such as that very spot on the hill that are now familiar to me.
As someone who has lived in about 8 different places in the past 6 years (many of them were in NYC, but still different apartments and/or neighborhoods), I really value a feeling of home, and I'm interested in what creates that. I actually have found that ever since I left my childhood home in Maine for college (which was a tough transition at first), I have become pretty adept at creating a sense of home for myself wherever I am. It's a skill I really value, and one that I really require in my thus far rather itinerant life as an artist.
Here are some of the things that I find help me create this feeling of home wherever I am:
music (either deliberate or accidental/synchronistic like with the Norah Jones in the gastropub)
candles, preferably scented
oracle cards - Doreen Virtue's Goddess Cards and Angel Cards, for example
nice toiletries and/or wellness products, e.g., essential oils, a lovely soap, room mist
spiritual books, like Louise Hay's You Can Heal Your Life
making myself a lovely, healthy meal
bodies of water
and, of course, connecting with my loved ones, near and far
What makes you feel at home when you are traveling and/or moving from place to place?