The other day, in my jetlag-riddled state, I left this Facebook post on a fellow assistant’s wall. Thanks to the Great Freeze Freakout of North America, she was stuck in the states and hadn’t yet made it back to France from her vacation.
I may have used the term simply because it was the easiest way to refer to where we live now in an all-caps FB post, but it’s quite telling that I was willing to type it at all. “Home” has always been a bit of a difficult word for me to say, and the most difficult of questions to answer is the classic “So, where are you from?”.
I was born in one state, lived in another from the ages of two to six, and then moved to Alabama for all of my secondary schooling. My close family now lives in yet a fourth state, and the rest of my extended family is still mostly in our original birth state, where we spend quite a bit of time visiting.
Though I spent most of my life in Alabama, I’ve never felt tied to it as a home. Being the type of person who always wanted to travel the world, I knew what most people’s opinions were of the American South and I didn’t want to be associated with it. I’ve always been that obnoxious kid on the first day of class who refuses to respond to a simple question with a simple answer. I felt it was more mysterious to come up with a cool answer like “I claim no home”. (In retrospect, this is not a cool answer. This is an annoying answer.) My “Hometown” spaces on Facebook and LinkedIn remain blank. You get the picture.
Now I live in France and I’d like to stay here for the near future, but I don’t know if the French will ever really let me officially call it home, or if I’ll allow myself to do so again. In the end, it’s more about enjoying life there, having a career, and then moving on. I might settle down in France or in the US or on Mars for all I know, but I doubt I’ll ever consider any of those locations to be my home. Wherever I can sit with my closest loved ones, my family-that’s where I want to be. I don’t know if following people around counts as having a true home base, but at least I know that I’m happiest lying on a couch-any couch, in any room in the world-with a book in hand, my mom to the left of me, my dad to the right, and my brother snoozing nearby.
I guess home really is where the heart is.
I invite you to watch this TEDtalk on the concepts of home and movement. Travel writer Pico Iyer has beautifully described the situation that today’s “world citizens” face more and more. He’s made me think quite lot about my own journey, and whether I’ll continue bouncing between the continents in pursuit of my home.