Yesterday, I was sitting on the sofa with my partner. I scrolled through my photos from England. It made me emotional and I said to him, “I feel I need to be over there. I think this feeling is homesickness”.
During my semi-sabbatical I slowed down and felt more at peace, but now that I am back in the Netherlands, I find that it’s hard to find balance.
What did I do in England that I don’t do here? I try to discover patterns and apply them at home too. But now I wonder even more: what exactly is ‘home’?
It’s a theme I’ve been working on for almost a decade, which started with this exhibition. It is the theme of all my paintings from the ‘Fernweh’ series.
‘Home’ for me means feeling grounded. It goes very deep, a kind of primal feeling. I articulated it for the first time in a conversation the other day, and I noticed emotions surfacing. When that happens, I know I am striking a chord within myself, and that I need to listen to it.
To feel at home, I need to feel understood, as I quoted during that 2013 exhibition. Shortly after the exhibition, I moved to The Hague and later to Rotterdam. I felt I was not understood in my immediate surroundings in Drenthe (regardless whether that was true). Something was gnawing, although I didn’t know exactly what it was at the time.
Outgrowing an old identity
Moving away from the place where I was born and raised allowed me to develop myself into who I really am. In my old environment, I was stuck with an old identity. A person that I had outgrown, but that people around me clung to because that was what they knew about me.
Although I did not know exactly why I felt I had to leave, I knew for sure that I had to do it. Ten years later, I see very clearly that this distance was necessary to literally give me the space to become more myself.
Home as a place
Being understood by those around you certainly helps you to feel at home, but even more important is to understand and accept yourself. Then you yourself become the foundation of your home-place. But I would be lying if I said I feel completely at home now, no matter where I live.
After ten years in busy Rotterdam, I am ready for peace and quiet. I have changed as a person and it is time to move on. Had I not had a partner whose home clearly is in Netherlands, I would be living in a country with hills and space to roam free. Beccause in Yorkshire, I felt firmly established. I belonged there, among the rolling hills and narrow paths, as if I were a tree whose roots were deep in the ground. This is what it feels like to be grounded.
When people around me understand me, or at least accept me, I feel safe. That is important for feeling at home. But now I also know the influence the natural landscape has. It is a basic ingredient to feel grounded.
Where I end up making my home, I don’t know yet. But I do know that as long as you develop as a human being, no home needs to be final.
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All text and images © Marloes De Vries