Lifestyle, Personal, spirituality, Stories, travel

Home Is Where the Heart Is

The desire to find a home is a desire to be whole, to know where you are, to be the point of intersection of all the lines drawn through all the stars, to be the constellation- maker and the centre of the world, that centre called love. To awaken from sleep, to rest from awakening, to tame the animal, to let the soul go wild, to shelter in darkness and blaze with light, to cease to speak and be perfectly understood.

Rebecca Solnit

I arrived at my mums friends house with my daughter and Kyra. I had found a place to stay for my daughter’s boyfriend so at least my load was lighter. I had taken him on like an adoptive son, he had been disowned by his family for dating my daughter so I felt responsible for him but it had become too much of a burden on me looking after him and especially now that I was homeless.

I was thankful to be given somewhere to stay. It came just at the right time. I don’t know how much more of city sleeping I could have handled.

I first met mum’s friend when I was five. He was a sannyasin and the same age as my parents. He lived with us for a while in our small unit in Glenfield, a suburb in Auckland’s North Shore. It was the only permanent home that I can remember and the place where mum gave birth to me. Home-births were quite rare in those days but my mum was a rare breed.

I spent a relatively ‘normal’ first 10 years of my life in Glenfield, with two working parents and an older sister. I attended school and became best friends with my neighbour who lived in the other unit that was attached to ours.

Being of similar age, we often played together in the reserve, which ran parallel to our block of units at the end of a right-of-way.

I have fond memories of eating loads of feijoas from our fruit trees in the garden, having sleep overs in our sleeping bags on top of our shared garage roof and rolling down the grassy hill at full speed on our bikes only to topple over in hysterics when reaching the bottom.

When I was ten I said goodbye to my best friend and my parents packed up the house, my two cats were put to sleep and we left the suburbs to live a nomadic lifestyle as gypsies in a tent.

That was the end of my ‘normal’ life.

Over the years I lost touch with my parents friend but mum got in contact with him after worrying about my homeless situation, while she was staying at my sister’s house in Auckland. I guess she was trying to help me and she knew he had a spare room so she called him and he invited us to dinner.

I didn’t want to burden myself on anyone. I had chosen this lifestyle and I knew it was only temporary until I found a new home and the bad experience I had with my sister had led me to avoid staying at friends houses. If my own family can turn against me what were other people capable of doing?

For this reason I preferred to be alone, to avoid any potential confrontations as it seemed I was pushing people’s buttons everywhere I went.

That evening at dinner he offered for me to stay, and he also offered to give me an astrology reading.

I drove back to Piha (where I was sleeping at the time) and decided to keep his place in mind. I would go there only if I really needed to.

A few days later, I returned to his house for an astrology reading which I found to be really enlightening as it gave me insight into what I was currently going through on a karmic and soul level.

I now knew why everything was happening the way it was and everything was perfect. My soul was doing exactly what it came here to do and I was experiencing some deep karmic lessons. So I booked in for another reading but the next one didn’t go so well. He focused the reading around relationships, which was an uncomfortable topic for me to be talking about with anyone let alone him.

Mid-way through the session he must have sensed my uneasiness and he came over and sat next to me on the couch and put his arm around me. His tone of voice changed and I felt really uncomfortable, my heart started to race and I froze. I didn’t want a cuddle nor am I a touchy feely type of person, was he thinking I needed comfort?

Everything he was saying was now being drowned out by my inattention and avoidance of what was happening. I suddenly felt disgusted and creeped out. He had known me since I was a child and I trusted him. Surely he knew that I wasn’t interested in him sexually.

What was he thinking?

The uncomfortable situation was cleared up pretty fast when I told him that I had no desire whatsoever to sleep with him. The reading then turned directions into a lesson about me needing to be more clearer with men and I felt it was done in a way that manipulated me into thinking that either it was my fault for leading him on or he created the entire scenario so that I had an opportunity to put the lesson into practice.

Even if his intentions were good, I was there for an astrology reading, not a lesson in communication, and I felt he took advantage of my vulnerability and tried to be my martyr.

I decided not to stay at his house. I would tough it out.

I went back to Piha that evening and listened to the reading that I had recorded and somehow convinced myself that it was okay and he wasn’t being creepy after all. I needed all the support I could get and I couldn’t bear to think that his place wasn’t an option if I really needed it.

So, when I received his phone call a month later, after doing a nightmare stint of city sleeping, I decided I would go and stay. Things couldn’t get much worse.

When I arrived everything felt okay. I put what happened between us behind me and we agreed on how much rent I was going to pay and set up more times for astrology readings. It was actually the first time I felt at home and relaxed since I had left my house in the city.

Although I was still sleeping in my van on his driveway, I didn’t have to worry about being moved along or being attacked by a psychopath in the middle of the night and my daughter had her own bedroom and bathroom that was separate from the main house.

I had hot showers every day and I ate all the foods that I couldn’t buy without a fridge. I cooked in his oven and washed my clothes in his washing machine. I had lights, power and Wi-Fi and I could chill out on his big comfy sofa and watch TV.

Simple comforts that we easily take for granted but a holiday for me from living it rough in my van for the past 3 months.

In between enjoying all the comforts of a house, I spent a lot of time looking into yoga teacher trainings in India while trying to keep up with a daily yoga practice. If I was going to India I needed to be capable of carrying out the physically intensive month-long training and I had to go prepared.

His place was situated high up with views overlooking neighbouring farmland. Paddocks with friendly horses, goats and chickens surrounded it and there was a lovely, peaceful atmosphere. It was a perfect spot for yoga and I was really grateful to him for having us.

On our third week staying my daughter’s music course was drawing to an end and I was now preparing to leave Auckland for good but there were still a few loose ends that I had to tie up. I needed to sell my car, as that was what was going to pay for my yoga training. It had been listed on trade me for months with hardly any interest and it was proving hard to sell, so I decided to take it to the car fair and again there was no interest.

I returned to the astrologer’s house in a bad mood with my car that I couldn’t sell. I needed to sell it and I needed to sell it fast! I was leaving Auckland soon and I had nowhere to store it and I desperately needed the money.

Seeing my dilemma, the astrologer gave me an impromptu astrology reading and suggested I stay on in Auckland at his house until I sold it. His suggestion wasn’t at all in my plan, as I wanted to leave as soon as possible.

At the time, his friend was visiting and Kyra had a habit of barking at strangers. They were both outside working in the garden and I was in the kitchen cooking dinner. When they came to the front door Kyra began barking at his friend and the astrologer kicked her in the stomach with his gumboot and started yelling at me.

Up until then he had been calm and patient with the dog and I had never seen him angry.

I was so upset by his angry outburst that I stopped what I was doing in the kitchen and took Kyra into my daughter’s room in the out-house and burst out crying.

The astrologer came into the room, still angry, to tell me I could continue in the kitchen and I told him I was upset and it wasn’t okay that he kicked Kyra. Hearing this angered him even more and he yelled at me and told me to leave.

Now in an even more vulnerable position, I immediately went to the van to begin packing up to go but it wouldn’t start. The damn thing just wouldn’t start! I couldn’t leave even if I wanted to.

To make matters worse, my daughter was graduating from her music course that week and she had been nervously preparing for her big solo vocal performance. This wasn’t fair on her. Having to worry about where she was going to sleep right before her final performance.

I had no choice but to stay the night and I slept with my daughter in her room. I phoned my mechanic early in the morning and he drove out that evening to start my van so I could drop it off at the workshop to be repaired.

On hindsight it was a blessing that my car didn’t sell as I was now going to need it.

The van ended up being in the workshop for the entire week and I ended up sleeping in the boot of my little Mazda Familia hatchback with Kyra. Meanwhile my daughter stayed with her boyfriend in his makeshift accommodation in a laundry that had been converted into a bedroom.

I drove to the nearest reserve and parked up for the night. I had hit rock bottom. Sleeping in the cold hard boot of my car was not where I had envisioned my life to go. I didn’t even have a mattress to sleep on and I couldn’t stretch my legs out. An enormous wave of pain washed over me and I cried myself to sleep. Suddenly there was a torch shining through my window and a hard knock on my door. I sat bolt upright, half undressed, to find a policeman peering back at me with a concerned look on his face.

I was unsure why he was there but nonetheless I wound down the window to find out. I hesitantly said hello whilst trying to hide my shame. “Is everything alright? are you homeless or have you had a few too many to drink and just pulled over for a nap?” I didn’t want to admit to the former so I agreed to the latter and then he set off on his way.

I tried to go back to sleep but the tears kept flowing. I felt so isolated and alone. I was inconsolably crying from deep in my belly- a dark and unchartered place that had been a storage facility for my past, a place that had been accumulating old wounds. I had no choice but to let it all go. I cried it all out that night and woke up feeling lighter but I was still faced with the reality I had created for myself.

Auckland had become like a noose around my neck. I felt suffocated and trapped. I just wanted to get the hell out of there and up to the safety of mum’s land until I left the country.

The day of my daughter’s performance had arrived and I didn’t want to miss it for the world. I was the only one attending in support of her. I had no choice but to lock the dog in my newly cleaned car and risk her chewing my seat belts, so that I could watch her sing.

The performance was held in a quiet town centre in the poor suburb of Mangere where the community is predominantly of Pacific Island, Maori and Asian descent.

I arrived just in time to see the passion and joy in the faces of everyone singing and the support the students, young and old, showed each other touched me. It was heart warming to witness the love, soul and passion that emanated out from every performance and how happy the locals were to watch the show. I had to hold back the tears, as I was a walking emotional mess.

It was my daughter’s turn and she confidently strutted up on stage and sung her heart out. It was beautiful. A perfect moment that I will never forget. It was a culmination of all the sacrifices I had made to stay in Auckland to support her to finish her course. The only thing that she had completed in her young life. I saw the happiness in her eyes and a spark of newly found confidence and I knew everything that we had gone through was worth it for her to find belief in her self.

I was immensely proud of her and I knew that everything was happening in divine order despite the hardships that we had gone through.

We were now finally free of any ties in Auckland.

I had to spend one more night in the boot of my car until my van was fixed then we could leave for good.

I picked up my van the next morning, I left my car with dad and we made the familiar 6-hour journey north to mum’s land.

We happily said good riddance to Auckland. My hometown and the place where I used to call home. A place filled with broken dreams and shards of disillusionment. Harsh lessons and disappointment. A cold, love-less place with dysfunctional family members. A place that had treated me so unkindly that it led me to the edge of the abyss where I faced my own demons.

A place that led me to the realization that home is where the heart is.

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