Where Is Home?

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Where Is Home?

For the first time in two years, I am in Berlin, Germany. I have moved a lot in my life- three apartments before I was four (all in Pittsburgh). Growing up I lived in Massachusetts (Newton, Acton, back to Newton). In university I lived in Amherst, then Hull, England, then back to Amherst. After graduation I lived in two apartments in Columbia, MD, then Silver Spring, MD. Then I moved from Amsterdam to Hong Kong, back to Columbia, MD. From there it was Warsaw, Poland, then back to Maryland. Then I moved to Berlin, Germany, to Mumbai, India, and back to Berlin. Now, as of two years ago,  I live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I often ask my sons (one born in Amsterdam, the other in Hong Kong) where home is to them and they usually refuse to commit. When asked myself, I usually answer that the Boston area is home. This week I have been visiting Berlin and although I knew it would be great to visit again I did not count on the viscearl reactions. Walking down the street that I lived on for 7 of the 11 years in Berlin it was hard to breathe. Memories came flooding back. I recalled it as my hardest times (newly single with two teen sons), but at the same time my best times (amazing friends and a feeling of peace). I have found it so easy to be back- I know how things work here (admittedly this is a more or less feeling- some things still confound me), I know how to navigate public transportation, I know some favorite spots, and more.  It has been joyful to spend time catching up with old friends and former colleagues. It has been great fun visiting old haunts, lounging in cafes, and eating favorite foods.

Now I am thinking about, where is home? I know that later this month I will visit the Boston area. Although my family is there it has been so long since I have lived there that I do NOT know how things work there- I definitely go there  as a tourist. I know when I return to Kuala Lumpur I will feel like I am returning home also. Maybe the old cliche is true- home is where the heart is. My heart is in several places (and I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for most of the places I have lived and feel at home in some places I have only visited). The crazy thing is I do not have to choose-  home can be where I am. The scary thing is trying to plan for the future- where do I want to settle once I retire? These are the things that keep me up at night sometimes.  As I age my definition of home seems to morph, so for now I am not deciding. I guess home is a state of mind, not necessarily a physical place for me.

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7 thoughts on “Where Is Home?

  1. mbhmaine

    What a fascinating global life you’ve lead and are leading! I loved reading your thoughts about home and what makes a home. I remember feeling a slight jolt when my college-aged children sometimes referred to their colleges as home. But what a wonderful thing–to have more than one place to call home. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  2. maribethbatcho

    All of that moving, and international living, puts a different spin on life, I think. I own a home, but ‘home’ is where I grew up, with my parents and siblings. I also have an international home, a place where I feel most at home, when I am not home. I don’t think you have to decide. Home can be many places, as long as it makes you feel good and strong and healthy.

    Reply
  3. Stacey Shubitz

    I’m sitting in my parents’ family room in NJ as I type this comment. They’ve lived here since I was five months old. I know this is home. That said, it feels boring compared to all of the incredible places where you have lived.

    Reply
  4. barbara suter

    I am envious of your time in Berlin. After my third visit, amongst family and close friends, I began to feel at home there. I have even toyed with moving there, although that will probably not happen because of my two kids. I think it’s wonderful that you’ve had such a perapatetic life but I can understand the “unsettled” feelings you are having since I, too, traveled a lot and lived in many places when I was younger. There reached a point where I needed to put down “roots” just to keep my sanity. I empathise with your musings about where you might retire, as I have been having the same feelings. The world is so complex now there doesn’t seem to be a perfect place to do that. So I agree, that “home” is within you and you can make any place your home.

    Reply
  5. Tara Smith

    I think home is a state of mind…until you find a place that somehow encapsulates your best, most essential needs. What a life you have lived, and how vastly all those experiences must have shaped you!

    Reply

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