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.