Sunday, April 25, 2010


One of the movies that stays with me the most from the past several years is "Kings", adapted from Jimmy Murphy's critically-acclaimed play The Kings Of The Kilburn High Road. It's a fairly true to life account of many an Irish ex-pat living in north London in the 70's and 80's. And the acting, particularly by Colm Meaney, hits the mark.

There's a lot of relevance in this movie to my own background, not just family history (my parents having emigrated to London in the 60's, returning to Ireland in '79 with my 4 older siblings and myself, a soon-to-be 1yr old, in tow), but in the broader sense of my experience growing up. Still, the words that I am oft reminded of are not specific to the Irish-English connection...

Wondering if he'd be better off returning to the country of his birth, one of the main characters sums up his lack of a sense of belonging:

We're never at home, neither here nor there

It's funny the effect those words have on me. For the most part, I consider myself lucky to have many places I call home. My house in Minneapolis, my family home, the area where I grew up, and a number of other places that for whatever reason have always made me feel "at home". But still, there is something unsettling about hearing those words spoken as if they were spoken just for me.

As always, I've enjoyed this trip home (I am still here - extended a few more days due to work). And as always, I am more happy than sad to be returning to home in MN.

In many ways, I never want to have just one home. But why then can I not let go of those words?


Matthew Patten said...

Glad you made it back safely.

I know what you mean. Most of my childhood was spent on the West Coast. I have a hard time not feeling like I am at home when I cruise through the old neighborhood.

I also feel like Chicago is home.

But.... MN is where I would love to stay.

People often ask why, being that my childhood town (Santa Monica) to them is paradise. It is the same answer I give for why I run these races.

"If you have to ask why, you wouldn't understand the answer".

I used to say

"Go live there for 5 years and you will understand"

See you on the trails soon.

Guy said...

I can relate Helen. Even though I was born and raised in the Minneapolis area, and cannot imagine living anywhere else but Minnesota, I truly have not felt at "home" in many, many years. I think it's more a state of mind than a place, however, so maybe some day...

olga said...

I am never home, neither there (because "there" changed so much) nor here (because of differences deep in core). But I try - and I call "home" a place where I'd like to be at the moment:)

SteveQ said...

Being "at home" is a state of mind. If you never feel like you're at home, you probably have been trying too hard to be free and not grounded to any one place (or person or thing). I'm the opposite.

When I was house hunting, the two places I liked were exactly like where I grew up (you live in one of the two neighborhoods!) and the places away from home I like most: Normandy, Dorset, Asturias, all remind me of home for the strangest reasons (apples, cheese, crusty bread and fish; hills next to water; Celtic enclaves nearby).

The smells of yeast, algae and Geotrichium (freshly turned earth or potatoes) all make me homesick. Even when I'm home.

SteveQ said...

btw: Kilburn and the High Roads were one of the first punk bands (1974)... which reminded me of Gang of 4's "At Home, He's a Tourist." I love any running post that makes me think of punks!

Psyche said...

Hi, Helen
Yes, the concept of "home" is a strange one. I grew up in Central Coast, CA and always have felt like that is home. Upon returning after many, many years, I was shocked to find I could not even relate to the area any more.

I've lived in NC for 10 years now. My son was born here. Yet it is not "home".

OK< now i am just getting depressed, and somewhat "homesick"!!

Anyways, glad you made it back safely:)

Psyche said...

Hey! Just noticed the Psycho Wyco 50K. I am going to have to run that one:)

Marie said...

Hey Helen, taking a ten minute break from essay hell to read your blog which I haven't looked at in ages...and I found this! That line has haunted me since I first heard it...I used it in my proposal for this Masters and it will hopefully be the basis for the next stage of my studies - if I ever get past this one! Anyway, back to work!

Anonymous said...

I think I know that feeling you are talking about... Vale

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