An Evolving Definition of Home

The loss (and gain) that happens when we live with an adventurous, open heart.

Sally Clarke
3 min readApr 24, 2022


The Dam, with an instie filter or two, in 2017.

I’m spending the week in Amsterdam, the place I have lived longest since leaving Australia twenty years ago. Walking its streets, memories lurk everywhere. Some make a particular space in my heart glow. Others give rise to bittersweet nostalgia, sending a shard of pain to that same place.

The dozen or so streets on which I’ve lived, strewn across the city.

My favorite run, done countless times, looping along canals through Oud Zuid.

Passionate kisses on a bridge over the Amstel river.

Late evening pizza and beer picnics with mates, laughter rising in the heavy, heady summer humidity.

Biking home from a music festival, dawn starting to glisten on the horizon, feeling unrestrainedly alive and free.

Sobbing without restraint, meandering De Pijp streets aimlessly, mourning the fact that I was leaving Amsterdam “for good” to marry and start a new life in California.


Amsterdam always knew better.

The first time I stepped foot in Amsterdam was as an exchange student. We spent the first weeks in the country in “culture classes”, run by the exchange organization in an inner-city attic. I was enthralled by the tight steep staircases and high window vistas, canal reflections and cobblestones, the scent of weed and lilt of Bob Marley as I wove my way wide-eyed through the red light district to class each morning.

That year, I leaned fully into foreignness, trying to lose and refind myself. I delved into Dutchness hoping to eradicate my Australianness. Only later did I realize that both are an intrinsic and beautiful part of who I am.

A few weeks after I arrived back in Australia after exchange, seventeen now and about to start uni, Mum and I were driving to Adelaide when I was suddenly overcome with emotion. Mum pulled over. I howled tears of frustration.

“I’m never going to feel 100% at home anywhere ever again!”

(Note: It’s a bratty, entitled thing for a privileged middle class white girl who’s just spent a year in



Sally Clarke

Co Director of Human Leaders. Wellbeing & burnout author, expert, coach, writer & speaker. Global adventurer. she/her