Such a simple word, or is it? Perhaps for some people, but not for me. It is so very charged.
We want to think that in the past it was easier, simpler: people spent their childhood years in the same house, got married and bought a house in the same neighborhood, or at least in the same town, where they were born, where their parents still live.
But the truth of the matter is that it was never that simple. People always emigrated, searching for the “golden ticket,” whether it meant more food (which can be seen in the Bible), better education, freedom to practice their religion, better-paying job. For some, like me, it was the opportunity to Be (who we really meant to be), without the persona that others see us through.
For years I didn’t feel “at-home” in my home-country. I moved from one place to another in discomfort. Then an opportunity occurred to live for a few years elsewhere. Few years in grad school turned into a career; a career brought me to my future husband and two kids.
Two kids who were no longer sharing the same childhood experience that I did, on its flavors, sounds, words, climate, smells, views. I started to call “home” to that place I was born at. Children do that to you, if only because you suddenly relive your own childhood, and if that happens to be in another language, in another place, then it all comes back.
I started pondering: Do I go back to that place from where I escaped (unconsciously, nevertheless), and that is so easy to miss and love from afar? Or do I stay in the only place that my children call home? Which experience do I want to share with my children, the one of “that place” or the one of the immigrant? The Other? Furthermore, regardless to those all-too-convenient Romantic memories of quite Friday afternoons and bright sky, the reality is also packed with traits that are not so Romantic.
It is in my character to be the wondering Jew, the unsettled philosopher who never, no-where feels at-home. When I’m there, I enjoy it as a time-off, but I am not really part of it. I’m a visitor. And even as a visitor I get tired of the intensity very quickly. When I’m here I don’t feel connected, really connected. The stories at the news do not seem to concern me. The nursery rhymes are not mine to sing to my kids; even the local version of my religion doesn’t feel authentic to me and my family.
Tea-bag wisdom suggests that home is a feeling. Maybe what I need is to reconstruct my own understanding of what home is for me.
Here I have more friends, yet there I feel less lonely. Here nothing can happen, yet there I feel safer. Here it’s too cold. There it’s too hot.
I like it here. I like it there. I do not LOVE it anywhere.