What is the meaning of “home”? This is a tricky, confusing, and delicate subject among some people. Is your “home” where you were born? Your country of origin? The country of your passport? Where you are now? Where your family lives? Where your parents live? Where your children are? Where your heart is? Where you hang your hat?
Can “home” change? Does it go with you if you move or does it stay back somewhere? Is home a place? A house? An address? A country? A city?
Is it a feeling? A state of being? A people or a person?
When I lived in Kirkland, WA and if someone asked me where “home” was – I would say my address – “221 8th Ave. West.” (Side Note: We are currently selling this house if you want to buy it.) If they didn’t want my actual house number, then I may say the city that I lived in – “Kirkland.” If that didn’t make sense, I’d say the city I was born in – “Everett.” All those places were “home” to me. At least they were all in the same state and even the same country. If I was out of state - “Washington” was home. Out of the country – “the USA” was home. But now, I don’t live in the US anymore. Once we officially sell our house, it won’t be our house anymore either. SO, where is “home”? Is it here in Shanghai, China?
I was surprised at how quickly our small modest apartment could become like home. Does it “feel” like “home”? Yes. Does it “look” like “home”? Sure. Is it “home”? I guess so. I don’t really need it to be, and I don’t want to grab onto it as “home” out of fear because it has to be or else I don’t really have a home which would leave me “homeless” and that wouldn’t feel very comfortable. If China is not “home”, then is it back in Kirkland or Everett or Tulare Beach or Maui? I asked Doug a few months ago where “home” was to him, he said after some thoughtful moments… “here”. How quickly we adapt.
Maybe it depends on how you define “home”. Where is my soft place to fall? Here. Where is my family? Here. Where is my address? Here. Where do I hang my hat? Here. Where is my heart? AAAHHH>>>>here, BUT it’s also back in Washington state with my parents, sister, family and friends. It’s in Colorado with my brother and his family…it’s in California with my friends…it’s in…
The “heart” piece of “home” is going to get really confusing as I am falling in love with new friends and they are going to live all over the world in the next few years. I’m already starting to miss them and they haven’t gone anywhere. A matter of fact, they are just in the building next door and across the courtyard, and down the block. (And I was worried about making new friends…HA! – just took some time, energy, patience, fun times, a little tequila, and love.) If “home” is where my heart is then I’m going to have a lot of homes.
I see the concept of “home” is confusing to my students as they often have many. Dad is from France; Mom is from Holland, born in England, lived in Thailand, Singapore, and Japan, but lives in China now. Where is “home” for kids like these? In all those places? None of those places? A little bit in all of those different countries and cities and houses?
A friend shared with me that “home” to her is where her immediate family was. They are in Bangkok now, so that is “home” because they are currently living there. Another friend told me that her “home” is wherever her mother lives since she, herself, is constantly moving around the world, teaching.
I used to think that my definition of home could not change and had to stay in one place, but I think I’ll take it with me as I travel. If my “home” does not come with my family and me, then it will always be somewhere that I am not. I don’t think I like that feeling. I think I would be perpetually “homesick” or “away from home” which could be unsettling. However, at the same time – I realize that I am a guest in the country that I live in. It could be a “host country” or I could be a “long time visitor” or I could call it a “temporary home.” Especially here in China, I am reminded that I am a guest on a daily basis and need to act as one to keep myself here. If I make myself an unwanted guest – I could be sent packing…back “home”?
This is my blog. I get to write about my definition of home, but I know that this is such a personal subject to each of us. Where is “home” to you? Where you are now? Where you were born? Your country of origin? Where your parents live? Where you grew up? If you moved from where you live now – would “home” go with you or stay back?
For now, “home” is Shanghai, China because it’s where Joey and Hailey sleep. Before I know it, that will change and I will have to change my definition of “home” yet again. Until then, my home is here.