Plenty of things have happened recently. So many things actually, that it´s hard to catch hold of them. I´ve been to Dublin two weeks ago, but I´ve also been to Amsterdam for Master´s day last weekend. I´m figuring out what to write my BA-Thesis about next semester, but I was also admitted at Columbia University as a visiting student, which made my whole study-plan collapse. I´ve become friends to a Syrian guy with a lot of positive energy living in Amsterdam, with a Nepalese, Australian-passport holding Dubliner. In each and every one of these occasions I heard, talked, saw and smelled something I wanted to write about. Two topics kept dancing in front of my forehead: Being alone. What´s home?
On my last trip to Dublin, I finally had the trigger that gave somehow substance to the whole topic of this entry. What is it about? Being alone. Or better: being with oneself.
Let´s look at this giant pink elephant eating peanuts from on top of our heads. People don´t want to be or do things alone. Seeing someone alone is an uncomfortable experience, it evokes our instinct of feeling pity for him/her.
Ever since being single and living on my own again, I recognised I myself had a fear of being alone looming from the background. I figured that I didn´t know how to be alone anymore and maybe I had never known. Or even better: I didn´t know how to be with myself anymore.
At first I couldn´t really see the point of doing things on my own. As soon as I realised, I started visiting museums, have dinner out sometimes, and the ultimate breakthrough: go on vacation alone. Of course sometimes on my trips I end up meeting friends or friends´ friends, who later become kind of my own friends, but the step out of the porch is always my own initiative. Somewhere in between Amsterdam, a paper about the role of semantics in the definition of truth and an avocado-bread, I wondered about how much of our “alone-time” we spend trying to connect with others instead of connecting with ourselves. Bam. Punchline.
Let me elaborate by giving an example: Do you commute home with public transport? If you do, think of when you´re sitting in the tube. Think of what you do when you wait at the bus station. Mostly we take out our phones and we communicate with people who are not around in that moment: we call someone, text someone, check instagram, check Facebook, check snapchat, twitter…all of these things have one main common feature: we check on others. But when do we check on ourselves? Imagine spending the time you invest looking at, for instance instagram stories, just with yourself.
Ginni what do you mean by spending time with yourself? Nothing special, really. Just looking around, checking out how the girl sitting in front of you skillfully composes that natural make-up you try to do every morning, but end up being too lazy for. Smile at that old lady you left your bus-seat for or at that couple´s hands secretly winding up silently. Rest your head on the window and feel the repetitive vibrations of the tube and the lights flashing by, reflecting about whether it will make your brain look like jam sooner or later. Think about whether you should join the “Bullshit-Growers fan club”. Puzzle whether you should give your next entry a title or if you should skip the foreplay and just go to the content of the essay -On that note, I´ll keep going with the titles-. Ponder about which dish you´d be if you could change your nature. Feel and talk to the pain in your left ear, which you recently pierced. Ask yourself if you should be crazy enough to take the first plane to some island in central America.
Luckily we are social animals (and yes, this is an as bold as imprecise quotation of Aristotle). But there are so many moments in life that we spend on our own. Let alone taking choices of whatever sort, we will at least die alone. All these moments of loneliness -meant in the mere sense of being alone, not the melancholic feeling- we don´t even recognise, because we make ourselves busy. We should be the greatest company to ourselves, since while some of our friends and family come and go, eventually leaving us alone, we get to spend the whole life together with ourselves.
The fact that we actually spend more time than we think on our own made me reflect upon a really important question: where is home? For being a brain-drain case, I am one of those who moved out from “home” making this issue very topical.
At the age of 15 I moved out from home to another country, immersing myself in a new culture and people I didn´t know and at that time home could be only one thing: where my family was, namely in Italy. Later, when I moved to Munich, I recognised that Vienna had become home to me too. It´s the place I explored the limits of responsibility in, experienced being defeated and not being able to hide in my mom´s womb anymore, the place I was most ticketed in (maybe that´s not really surprising considering I lived in Rome before, but still), most of my friends live in Vienna and I exited the private-school mentality and really started looking around and outside box there. Thus home is in Vienna too.
Now I live in Munich, where I do and learn what I love, where I found myself face-to-face with living completely on my own for the first time, finding a job, deal with bureaucracy, be hospitalised, tired, frustrated: all alone. Even if friends always play an important role and are present in all occasions, you are the only subject of your experiences. That’s the place I most maturated in. So even if I have “only” friends living in Munich and my university and my jobs, this is home to me too.
In this context I think of myself as a snale: I move around leaving a slimy trace behind me and little by little I leave behind different Ginnis, becoming a different person. Eventually going back to your homes is more about going back to who you were before; to past times you want to remember. Consequently, it appears that any place representing one version of ourselves qualifies to be called home.
It seems like home is an internal concept in a slimy shape made of who we are and who we have been. A trace we can always follow back, made of internal experiences and milestones, which we lived through on our own, but which are always decorated by people who have been (and still are) component of who we finally are in present time. Thus, maybe our home is not bound to place and time anymore, but to the people we have met and have influenced us -even if only slightly-, because a great part of what we are today is an infinitesimal composition of each person crossing our slimy trace.
Isn´t therefore the truth about being alone, being on one´s own, being with oneself perhaps: we are always in company of who we are?