Sleepovers and Homes

In A Sense of Place, 11. A Cosmopolitan Sense of Place by Alejandro Ribadeneira2 Comments

I relate to Pico Iyer’s talk Where Is Home? in various levels, but mostly in his realization that you do not need much to feel at home. In fact, that you simply need to feel somewhat comfortable with who you are.

I am a very slow worker. I believe that it takes me 99% thinking and 1% making in most of my projects. Otherwise, my work turns out to be quite bland and I get stressed out. This notion of slowness and growth can be extrapolated to my chronological life and my feelings about the concept of home. From a very young age I was terrified of sleepovers, these situations would bring out the worst in me. And I remember being super uncomfortable when I was asked if I wanted to stay over—there simply was no hint of a ‘yes’ in my being. Was I very attached to my idea of home and comfort? The pillow, the light outside the door that I always imagined looked like a windsurfer? I will never know.

With time, I grew out of this fear. Slowly, as I like to grow. Perhaps my comfort switched from being place based to being a bit more internal. This process came alongside a couple of external circumstances; a divorce, the destruction of my home (due to some human accident I would rather not talk about), and my leaving for boarding school. Little by little it did not quite matter where I slept. In fact, the further, the more exciting. With this change in perception regarding where I felt comfortable, a change in what I considered home also changed. Mirroring Iyer’s ideas, I have grown to have many homes—or, at least, ideas of home (and identity). I believe in some past life I must have been Japanese, and that remains inside of me. That country, its people and environment speaks to me. Let’s call Japan my imaginary ancestral home. But I also relate to other places quite strongly.

Quito: Alejandro Ribadeneira Varea

Quito is where I grew up. It’s where I learned how to ride a bike. Where I peed in my bed. Where I got drunk for the first time. Also, where I decided I did not want to live in for a bit.

New York is now. Where I felt seasons for the first time and where I choose who to see and when. New York has become home and probably will feel like home for the rest of my life—simply because of a temporal attachment. I have been here for long enough.

Many other places are part of this ensemble which proves the point that Iyer makes, making a home for myself is a work in progress. There is a chance that next year I will live half a world away, and as I find common ground with the place, it will also be home for me.


  1. Hi Alejandro, I really enjoy how you extended Pico Iyer’s thoughts into your life. You have lived in so many different places already and I can imagine while growing up it must have been strange to not have a constant place at times. You really exemplify how home lies within oneself. It is about the experience and people one collects on the way and the place will perhaps always be a part of you. The more I think about it, the more I believe that hearth is not bound to place but routine that can happen anywhere. Home is comfort rather than place.

  2. Ale! I was on the same page with sleepover’s as a child, and can definitely relate to the feelings you have about home, how only some places would be able to qualify as home but one place simultaneously isn’t home forever yet also will always somehow be home. I think it’s interesting to as you move homes, how you can visit a previous home and be homesick. When I visit upstate, where most of my family still lives and where I grew up, I feel oddly uncomfortable and unhappy. New York is my home now, everything I do day-to-day and all my habits are supported by what I have here. Yet, I can imagine a future where I feel homesick while visiting New York from a new homeland, and missing that elsewhere.

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