Creating a home

Mathabatha Sexwale
Apr 29, 2019 · 3 min read
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Photo by Mario Purisic on Unsplash

What is home?

I lived with my mother, sister, brother and grandparents for the first 6 years of my life. This is where I learned to walk, talk and be.

I lived with my stepfather somewhere during that time. All I remember is him coming home with chocolates and us watching soccer supporting the same team.

I have a place where I spent my early primary school years, with my cousins, my aunt and my uncle. Here I learned to live with a family that was like my own but was not the same family I grew up with. A place where I modified my way of being.

I finished my primary school years living with my mother, brother and sister where for some time my biological father rejoined our family.

I have a boarding school where I spent my high school years. I adapted to people who were remarkably different from me, on the first impression, but not all too dissimilar on the next 1 500 impressions. I became part of a new family.

By this point, I had matured while growing up in 3 families. My mother, brother and sister, grandmother and grandfather. My aunt, uncle and cousins. My friends, teachers, housemasters, other students and house staff.

My university residences are where I spent my early adult years, two years living in the same small space with two different men and two years living in my own small room.

I spent my early working years with my aunt, uncle, sister and cousins. Then one year alone. Three with a flatmate. A year with a girlfriend and then another few months with a flatmate.

“Home” is supposedly where I started, at my grandparent’s house, where my earliest memories began. Every return conjures the feeling of being at home. I remark at how big my first room used to feel. How some of the furniture and even cutlery is as old as me. I see walls teaming with photos of new life and memories where I used to only see paint. I remember the stories I used to imagine as a kid playing with my action figures.

I ask the opening question wondering if a home is physical. If you can point at a shelter and call it home. I wonder if I can create what I had at my grandparents for my future family, or for myself.

I also ask having realised I have a deep desire not to own stuff. To own very little. Not to own a house, car, furniture, appliances, cutlery, crockery or even clothing. I wonder if all I have is the shirt on my back, then how can I create a home?

At the moment, it seems that as long as there is a space where I can frequently interact with my family and friends, a community, then I have a home.


< — Ponder: What is your community? — >

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