HOME: a concept that commonly refers to one’s place of origin, a place of familiarity and comfort, one that you can call your own. Each month, we explore the stories of nomads around the world as they share their definitions of what home means to them. Today, we share the story of Lola Pedro, a writer, trend analyst and overall cool chic whose wanderlust led her from her native London to New York, Tokyo and now Lagos.
I was born and bred in London, UK. I’ve always considered myself a Londoner and yet like most people born in cities, my identity was never really anchored in the rest of England as a country.
My blood is African, Nigerian to be more specific. Growing up, this fact proved to be fundamental in why I never considered England as ‘home.’
From artsy trips to prim and proper cities like Geneva and Paris to dirty inebriated holidays across the Spanish coast, I’d like to think that prior to university, I’d got a decent taste of Europe in some of the best and worst ways possible.
In saying that, however, it was during my time at university in Manchester where I truly became consumed by wanderlust. I began my journey in England itself, discovering the richness of culture within the UK in a rusty Ford Capri. Lapping up Scotland in all its raw grit and soul, checking out untamed parts of Wales and observing local traditions absent from London life yet super alive in quaint English hamlets and villages.
As much as my understanding of my ‘home’ country developed, England still failed to become the place where I felt the most comfortable. Instead, I increasingly became a spectator of its various cultures, which albeit interesting, still felt as foreign to me.
Never the less traveling around Great Britain certainly primed me for the new adventures I would encounter later on in life. I went on to digest new environments by simulating the everyday life of its inhabitants. I travelled and then stopped for awhile, got a job and hung with locals (while avoiding ex-pat communities).
My first shot at living like a local was on 110th Street in New York’s Spanish Harlem neighborhood, or Central Park North, if you believe gentrification’s trixy descriptions. Moving to the northern part of New York City was a no-brainer since I’d always been in urban and ethnic spaces. And while the enclave’s energy blew me away, for some reason I knew I still hadn’t found my home. Instead, I learned that there were more cultures rooted in other places that sparked my curiosity, specifically Japan and Cuba. New York opened my eyes to the enormity of the globe and triggered a subconscious challenge to conquer it. So, my explorative mind was sparked and there was no turning back. I headed to Japan.
I made the move to the Japanese mountains in 2004. Like my time in the UK, indulging in rural local traditions, festivals and past times provided me with a sturdy grounding to the various facets of the country. So after one year of cultural initiation, I migrated to the city, Tokyo.
Tokyo, like New York, oozed with character and was initially as surreal as it gets. I was also able to reconcile my love for escaping to awe-inspiring landscapes like the hot springs or temples, while dwelling in the madness of a 24 hour metropolis. I remained in this bubble for almost four years but then I realised again that I wasn’t completely comfortable and it was time to return ‘home.’
Once I returned to London, I stayed for four years, which have proved to be some of my best years yet. I had a newfound appreciation of my home city, despite the gentrification which has taken its toll and visually many neighborhoods felt completely unfamiliar. My London pit stop helped me to redefine my definition of home. I understood it not to be a physical thing but a deeper, multi-faceted force encapsulating culture, memories, relationships with colleagues, acquaintances, friends and loved ones. Please excuse the cliché, but while I am not a citizen of the world, I do have many homes. And yet on another level, home is also a state of mind, where you feel most at peace with yourself or where the spiritual connection between yourself and your locality is strongest.
So, in an attempt to go full circle on my parents’ journey from Nigeria to the UK and discover the lands from which they left, I moved to Lagos, Nigeria, where I currently reside. While in my parent’s homeland, I’ve seen South Africa, Ghana, Togo, Benin and like Japan and the UK, I have also enjoyed jumping into the fabric of these countries, especially Yoruba-land so far, and peeling apart its various layers of culture and tradition.
The hustle in Lagos is hardcore, but in all honesty, I’ve never felt more at home.
Are you a nomad who has created your own definition of “home”? We’d love for you to be a part of the conversation and we want to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your story.
Last 5 posts by Sherry J. Bitting
- In Africa, Black Americans Behaving Badly - June 17th, 2014
- Home: Redefined--Meet Micheline Ntiru - December 5th, 2013
- Home: Redefined—Meet Kamey Butler - October 9th, 2013
- Home: Redefined–Meet Nomad Peggy Jean-Louis - August 9th, 2013
- Home: Redefined—A New Perspective Told by Nomads Around the World - July 10th, 2013