I recently went home for a visit after two years of living abroad. It took 21 hours in the air, two days and three time changes, but I finally made it “home”. The only problem was, once I got there, I couldn’t figure out exactly what home was.
For the past couple of years, I have struggled with the idea of leaving my country and travelling across the world to this foreign place where I am completely unprotected and uncared for. I have missed the simple luxuries that come with being a citizen: health care, educational assistance, recognition, the ability to travel cross-country without being interrogated. I thought the trade-off might be worth it. I live on a beach, life is more laid back here, I work half as hard but make twice as much. And then there’s the satisfaction of “making it” here, when the odds were always against me. Somehow, I have fought hard and built a life for myself in a different country, with a different family and different friends. The only thing I know for sure is that I am not the same person. I have learned that It’s impossible to return home after so long, and not be changed.
I thought that going back would give me some certainty about the choices I’ve made. I just wanted to know, within myself, that I’ve done the right thing, I’ve chosen the right “place”. But it was just the opposite; I was completely confused during my visit to Canada. I found myself questioning why I ever left, yet I didn’t regret it. Everything was so familiar, still I felt strange, like I didn’t belong. I was, after all, just visiting. I fell in love with my country all over again, and it was heartache leaving. Then there was the inevitable question that all my friends asked: Are you going to live in Australia forever? Is it home now?
The truth is, I didn’t know what home was until I went back. My mother went through a knitting phase once, and I remember she knit this photo frame that said, “Home is where the heart is,” with a little house on it, a sidewalk and a tree. It looked just like our house, and I used to ask her why she didn’t just write, “Home is where the house is.” She said that I was missing the point. I’ve missed it my whole life.
Now I have decided on a meaning, and I wish I knew it long ago. Home is where your heart is; it’s where you feel loved, and it’s what you love with all of your heart. But sometimes we leave a piece of heart behind, and it doesn’t mean that’s not home anymore; it doesn’t mean we love that place any less or that we’re trying to replace it. It just means that we can’t let go.