There are a lot of quotes I live by. My favourites are: “Make your life worth writing a memoir about, the world is harsh, therefore I will not be”, and, in the words of Fyodor Dostoevsky, “How could you live and have no story to tell?”
I like the last one the most.
When I was eight, I went to a beach for the first time, I loved growing up on an island in Mauritius, getting better at French, almost meeting a dolphin, the ocean that I swam in for the first time, and the postcards I collected.
The year I turned 13, I moved back to India. It took a while for the Delhi skies to feel familiar, and even longer for my opinion of the city to change.
But now, I’ve left pieces of my heart with friends who know where the best tiramisu spots are in Delhi, and Mumbai art galleries, for all the times I’ve gone on a drive with the wind in my hair and all the moments that I don’t write about. I’ve been dwelling on my definition of home for a while now. From hearing friends talk about an entire life’s worth of memories in one place, seeing people who’ve been meeting each other every day since primary school, to telling my best friend stories on the phone and realising that time changes everything.
I fall in love with the thrill of the unknown. With how intertwined we are with the places we call home. I don’t think I realised that before I moved. I like to think that the 18 years of my life I’ve spent being alive have been pretty interesting. I will always be an island person, with the beaches, the wafting smell of the ocean, sinking my toes into the sand, running into the ocean for one last swim, getting there right before sunrise, or watching sunsets from boats.
I think that wherever I am, blue skies and summer wind will make it home. But then, New Year parties make it home too. It’s all about the people and about the little things. I was never a small-town person. When I moved to one right at the beginning of high school, it felt like constantly being on the edge of things. But then I found people that I like to think I will know for many years to come. I never thought I’d be planning future Sunday brunches with my best friends, but I couldn’t be more grateful.
Almost five years later and this city doesn’t entirely feel like home. But there are glimpses that feel like the “Did you get emotional the first time you drove in Sacramento?” scene from Ladybird, and parts of it that feel more like home than ever before.
At 18, I stand on the brink of change. With a heart full of memories and the knowledge that you will call places home but claim none of them, yet that they will be kind to you. I’m letting the feeling endure in memories only we know that lay scattered across the streets at midnight, with the taste of last evening’s vodka on your tongue, and all the stories that would be perfect to put into a memoir.
It’s important to not live life like a prequel. Maybe we’ll only ever be home for the summer again. Maybe even that will feel the way it feels to be a stranger stepping into the places we once loved. But until then, like most poets, we’ll never get tired of loving, you know?
Rajshri Bhardwaj’s a writer who loves chocolate ice cream and the brain.