These four letters hold unfathomable emotional depth. For many people, home means warmth, love, happiness, and belonging. For others, the word home has a negative association due to past or current trauma. For some, they think about the physical structure of a house, maybe even a particular one that they’re connected to.
I’m currently in America, my homeland, and this has given me pause to reflect on what home means for me. When I’m in Austria, sometimes I feel homesick. But for where exactly? The easy answer is for Thailand and Suan Sati. That’s where I feel that I’m my whole and best self. Then I dig a little deeper and ask myself why that is? Why don’t I feel homesick for America?
I moved around a lot as a kid. I attended ten different schools in four different states from kindergarten through high school graduation. That made it hard to forge deep bonds with other kids, and I always felt like an outsider. Additionally, I went to three different colleges so that phase of life didn’t alleviate feelings of not belonging.
When I moved to Thailand at age 24 to train as an English as a second language teacher, I quickly connected with the other teachers in my cohort. We were all strangers in a new land, bonding over our shared “otherness”. I was able to reinvent myself into a more open and social person, something that escaped me at times in America. Thai people helped a lot with that too, as they are generally curious and friendly which drew me out of my shell. I really did feel at home in Thailand, like I was Thai in a previous life or something.
After two years in Thailand and three years wandering around the globe, I decided to come back to Thailand to open up Suan Sati. I wanted to create a place for everyone to come and feel welcomed and accepted, a place where they belong.
I understood then and now that for me, home is a feeling. A feeling that I’ve been craving most of my life, and not a physical location. I’m beyond satisfied when our guests tell us that they get that home feeling from a stay at Suan Sati, as that was my guiding light in the creation of this sacred space.
Lastly, I have to add that I have started to feel more at home in America on this current seven week trip. I was able to connect with people I’d met in Thailand, family members I don’t see often, and spend lots of time deep, deep in the mountains (and far away from internet, hence the delayed blog post here!). Those connections with good people and mountain solitude are nourishing on a soul level, and show me that while America isn’t where I want to be, it isn’t as bad as I thought it was (Please don’t get me started on what’s wrong with America, that would be a 200 page rant).
Where or what is home for you? Is it physical or nonphysical? Is it a town, a house, a group of people? What does it feel like? You’re invited to reflect on this theme for you, perhaps even writing about it.
Thanks for taking time to read and feel together. Until next time, love from my home to yours.