READ| 5 April 2020

Text: Maximilian Botsio
Pictures: Martin Hufnagel
Teaser: Celine Lika

Maximilian writes about what ‘home’ means to him and reflects on the different places, situations, and people that make him feel at home.

(The writer of this article uses a genderless pronoun to protect the privacy of some appearing people.)

The universe is a pretty big place. The funny thing is that each of us living here occupies their own living world. Those worlds are what we often call home.
But where or what exactly is a home?
The dictionary definition is: ‘A house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household.’
Pretty simple, right?! Well, it actually is not that simple.

I discovered very early that my apartment, although it’s very pretty, is not where I feel home.
I’ve always felt the urge to leave this place, these four walls that a lot of people would call their safe space.
My safe space was usually where other people were.
I simply love watching other families interact with each other. It may sound super weird, but for me, seeing a family with a set of parents and a bunch of kids has always been very exhilarating.
So, when I feel alone, and not lonely, I drive down one of my favourite streets and escape to watch other families do what they usually do. Sit together at a table, eating, drinking, fighting, and laughing.
It never occurred to me that what I was doing may seem weird to other people. For me, visiting these families and observing them is part of a ritual, a way to charge energy.
In that time, I have something for a second, something that I have so rarely had in my life: a regular family.
When I watch them, I feel at home.

Wellington, New Zealand (2017)

New York, United States (2017)

Barcelona, Spain (2016)

Toronto, Canada (2017)

I would still say that my POC family is not the only place where I feel home.

My father’s sister lives in the United States, so when I have the time, I hop on a plane and fly over the big pond between Europe and America.
When I arrive in the land of the free, I get this bubbly feeling in my belly, knowing that after I’ve answered some security questions and claimed my luggage, I’ll get a really warm and lovely hug. You know what kind of hug I am talking about, right? It’s the kind you only get from someone who truly loves and misses you from a far distance.
When I receive that hug, I feel home.

I would still say that the country of endless possibilities and my POC family are not the only places where I feel home.

I am part of a really big family, but everyone is very invested in their own projects, so we only meet rarely on special occasions.
I have this one cousin who is loveable from the moment you meet them.
The most awesome, intelligent, fearless and creative person you can imagine.
When I am together with them, I feel home. Have you ever met a person you are that much in sync with, that you sometimes feel like you’re one person?
No matter if you are far away from each other, you always feel and are connected by the things you’ve experienced together.
When I laugh with my cousin, I feel home. 

There is one place I feel home, which has no physical barriers.
There is no limitation of time. There is no limit to connectivity or communication. Yes! I’m talking about my phone. And yes, I am a millennial, but I am not talking about social media stuff or texting till my thumbs hurt.
I am talking old school stuff: Regular phone calls.

There’s one person I feel very connected to, although we don’t see each other a lot if I don’t make the effort.
However, the effort is always worth it.
We meet each other on so many levels. Not only in our daily phone calls, which sometimes last several hours because there is no limitation of time.
During the day, a car could pass by, I could hear a clapping sound or a brush going through someone’s hair, and I would just instantly think of that person.
Don’t misunderstand me, this is not meant romantically, but my brain is just wired that way. Feeling connected to someone on this level is to me so much more than a feeling of lust.
It's love. It's home.
When I speak to them, I feel home.

I would say that all of these things are home to me.
Being the observer from the sideline. Watching a normal acting family, getting a warm and affectionate hug from someone you love, or being on the phone with someone for several hours.

A home does not necessarily have to be a place with concrete limitations or a mortgage to pay off.
Home is a state of mind and a feeling.
You can’t really describe it.
You can only experience it.