Sunday, December 5, 2010

Homecoming or Just New Turf?

In a week's time I make my move. I am going home, after spending the predominant part of my life abroad. Notice how I place these two words in italics. It is all a matter of context really and it really is quite exhausting to delve - yet again - into what those two words really mean, to me, to you or to anyone else. So I will not bother. No, this piece is not about where home is or what going abroad means. This piece is about something else.

I am a third culture kid and I have been travelling my whole life. Imagine growing up with that sort of lifestyle. Someone once described it as living out of a suitcase. Airports and planes are just another means of getting to your destination. No more the adventure of experiencing the journey. Over the years, my body has developed this natural inclination to settle itself into its new surroundings, without any hassle or a struggle, it just adapts without forcing itself.

This is what this piece is about - the notion of settling down. But there is another side to this coin, given my nomadic nature. It is called my ability to adapt.

I think it is time for me to settle down. No, really, I do mean it this time. To really call a place home and mean it. To have a single point of reference when I think of 'home' or have someone ask me where I am from. To have a network of family and friends whom I can physically visit whenever I want to instead of having to call or skype or whatever. To get hit by a happy memory and actually be able to go to the place where it occurred, relive it and smile.

I call many places home. The word just conjures up memories of different places and people. I am used to diversity. How will I adapt to the oneness of it all. What will happen to me when familiarity makes me restless again and an itch in the form of the travel bug hits me out of the blue. I rejuvenate myself and grow by taking off and going to a new place. Metamorphosis. How will I resist that urge and recondition myself to find another means of metamorphosising!

Perhaps it is not a question of balancing 'settling down' with 'adapting'. I always adapt. But perhaps that is only because I know that I always have the option to move if I choose to. My adaptation is really a temporary fix; a means of dealing with my current situation. This time this option will not be there. This time I have made my choice to stick to a place, to grin and bear it - all - regardless of whether my ability to adapt is a temporary fix or not. I will have no choice but to adapt. I guess that is what settling down is all about. You make a commitment and stick to it.

Yet, reading over all what I just wrote, why do I paint such a complicated picture? There should be joy and celebration because this really is a homecoming. I am returning to my birthplace. I am committing myself to the place which brought me into this world. A homecoming that brings with it warm fuzzy feelings that rise from deep within and from a happy time long long ago. A homecoming that speaks of nothing but a future of inner peace and serenity, basking in the summer of my life from now on.

Of course, if things get really desperate there is always that option to pack up and go. I would only be exploring new turf - for a while. Only time will tell.


  1. Since I am what is known as an army brat, what you write resonates with me. For most of my life I felt the urge to move on after about 3 years or so--this time I have stayed put for 13...but going home? I don't know. Where is home? I never had one, really. How about you? Is it the place of your birth or where you spent your childhood? Home to me is where my heart can beat a bit slower--but as far as warm and fuzzy, that only exists in my imaginary past...I wish you bon voyage!

  2. Thanks for your comments, authorinprogress. You're quite right in saying that home is usually where you spent your childhood but I found out, while growing up, that it can be many other things. Like a place where your loved ones live or a place you tend to associate with happy memories or even a place that has shaped you in one way or the other. It can be about the place itself or about the people. In any case, I know home can mean different things to different people. For me, I call different places home and I wonder how I will adjust this time. Only time will tell.

  3. Now that I have read it, I can't really tell why you're not satisfied with your current lifestyle but I think you're definitely normal for wanting a place where you could call home. On the other hand, I am quite the opposite as I am always surrounded by family and relatives. And because of that I wanted to live somewhere else to experience different culture, living lifestyle and of course explore different landscape and food! I feel that sometimes a change in life can really widen your horizon.. as in you see things that others normally don't see. Difficult but challenging :)

    I wish you best of luck in your decision :)

  4. Zhongming, perhaps it's an age thing. There comes this point in life where you just need things to slow down a bit. I do have relatives who have just spent their whole lives in one place and would absolutely love to travel. At times I do wonder what life would've been like for me if it were just that way. Travelling is a good thing no doubt about it. I think it's very different when you have that option as a grown up as opposed to experiencing it while actually growing up. I know I would've been a completely different person and looking back I know that I wouldn't change a thing :)

  5. From a stranger to a stranger...
    What a word! I don't think I can identify with one ... on this Earth! Don't mean to sound gloomy but I really don't have one in a physical sense. By that ofcourse I don't mean a house or place to live but a community or culture that I could call mine.
    Home for me is very abstract. In this life it is people whom I identify with their ideology even if I have never met them physically, even if they were through the world wide web!

    Best wishes for some serenity and tranquility :-)

  6. Thanks badeea :) You of all people would understand. I gave up on the concept of home a long time ago. Now it's all about settling down for me, in a place, where I can find loved ones and family around me. A place where I cease to feel the coldness of unfamiliarity. In a sense it's that warmth that can create a notion of home, if that makes sense at all.

    So far (and I mean the last few days since I arrived here) it's been good and I have experienced nothing but good vibes and happy faces. It looks like this might be my home after all.

  7. :-) I literally smiled at your reply.
    I am happy for you.