Growing up, my mum would always say this phrase to me over and over, with a longing in her eyes to one day return to her own home; Nigeria. Many years later, I now fully understand what she meant. She was referring to the fact that there's nothing like the familiarity of your childhood bed, or the noise the stairs make when you creep down them in the middle of the night to get a glass of water. She was pointing out the fact that everything remains the same, even though so much (of you) has changed and will continue to do so. There is no place where you'd rather be to hide from a storm or dance well into the night. It's the first place you think of calling when you hear news - good or bad.
What I had yet to understand was that 'home' is the place where your heart feels easy. Where it knows that it belongs and can stay as long as it needs. It's a place of feeling, of comfort and solace - where no words have to be exchanged or explanations given. It's a place of indescribable contentment. The kind that offers comfort and a sense of safety that no place you've seen has been able to offer you so far.
Home is the memories with your siblings. It's remembering the childhood games you played in the long summer days. It's the resenting 'I'm sorry' after the argument to end all arguments. It's the embarrassing moments only you share together. It's being safe in the knowledge that wherever you may travel, there's a connection that started long before your existence that you can always find your way back to.
It's the distinct smell of your mothers cooking - the spices and fried plantain that can be smelt from halfway down the street. It's the surprise 'I'm making Moi Moi' your mum calls out as you enter the house. It's the deafening silence in the middle of the night and the rush of movement in the morning. It's the feeling of restlessness - of wanting to move on to the next adventure. But not yet, maybe next week, month or year.
It's a place that, despite my best efforts, is difficult to describe. What does it mean to be home? It means comfort, safety, familiarity, and memories you thought you'd long forgotten. It's a building, a city, and, more importantly, it's a person, or group of people, that truly define the word home.
What is your definition of home?