The past few months, as I've moved from Austria to Iowa to Louisiana, it's been difficult for me to define "home." After living like a guest in other people's houses for two years, surrounded by their furniture, sleeping on their bed linens, and using their pots and pans, I forgot what it was like to be truly on my own. I've been in my own place for three weeks now, and until this weekend I was still feeling displaced.
They say that home is where the heart is, and I feel most at home in Steiermark, the Green Heart of Austria. "Green" refers to the 58% uncultivated woodlands, but it also means a healthy lifestyle with affordable organic food and an emphasis on nature and the outdoors, and people who live lightly on the earth. As I was lamenting my return to Louisiana, my friends all asked me "Can't you create a little Austria in Baton Rouge?" Thanks to them, I've come to realize that home isn't just a physical address, it is a state of mind.
When I left the Enns Valley, friends Anita and Raimund gave me an Austrian house number, a substantial piece of red and white enameled tin, reminiscent of the Austrian flag. Since July 20, the first thing I've done when I've moved into a new place, however temporary, is hang this sign in a prominent location. It doesn't matter what physical location I'm in, I live at Mozartgasse 13.
The people who've visited seem to like it here. :-)