Thursday, 1 March 2012

Where do you live and

why do you live there?
I have a friend returning to New Zealand. It is where she was born and she has been homesick for it ever since she left. There have been frequent trips backwards and forwards. The earthquakes in her home city of Christchurch worry her less than the not seeing her family.
I have another friend who has not lived here for forty-one years. She has been backwards and forwards too but not frequently. Until her parents died it was an annual duty visit. After that is was always several years apart. Now, physically frail herself, she has made the decision she is "coming home". Her sister is here - although they are not close. Her friends live elsewhere.
My cousin and his partner live in London. They plan to retire here. They say it is "home" although they no longer have friends here.
I have lived in this state most of my life. I have a sister here. I also have two siblings who live in other, different, states.
I had a year in Melbourne and four years in Canberra. I also had seven years in London.  If anyone asked me where I had felt most at home it would have to be in London. Given the opportunity I believe I would go back there. It is not going to happen but I would go back despite the winters, despite all the problems, the potential dangers, the difficulties of getting around etc. London had other attractions, mostly intellectual. Friends still live there.
I know I live where I do now because of my father. He can live in his own home because I live with him. He is still easy to live with. We both know that if I did not live here he would not be able to live here either. Nevertheless I feel it is his home, not mine. I do many things his way, not mine. That is only right and proper.
I have been thinking about all this because there is yet another discussion coming up about "unmet need" and "waiting lists" for people with disabilities who are being cared for "at home" by their parents. The general belief is that people should go into "group houses in the community". These places are supposed to become their "homes". 
In reality I doubt any of these places are "home" or ever become "home". In them they will share space with people they do not know and did not choose to live with. They will have an endless stream of changing outsiders supposedly "caring" for them. There are rules and regulations made by outside authorities over every aspect of their daily lives.
There is a perception that, in a "group house" people have more control over their own lives but the time they get up in the morning, the food they eat, the type of clothing they wear and their daily activities are still dictated by others. Meaningful "consultation" is so rare that it really does not exist. These houses were supposed to help people become "part of the community". With the rarest of exceptions this does not happen. Within the population can change in ways that would not happen in the rest of the community. Residents will come and go and you do not choose your housemates. 
I wonder where "home" is for people who live like this?


Donna Hosie said...

Home is where the heart is. It isn't a place, it's a feeling. I lived in the UK; I now live in Canberra. Right now, this is home. In 10 years I would like to think I could be living in NZ, or NY, or Rome!

Anonymous said...

Well they are not any sort of home I can tell you. We got my brother out of one of those. He is better off in a nursing home with old people!

catdownunder said...

Yes, a feeling - a sense of where you belong in the world?