A friend once told me it took her three years to finally come to terms with the fact that she has a different country from what she has known to call home. I held on to this, thinking my time would come. That give or take a few years, I would gradually have a sense or a semblance at least of attachment to this foreign land. It’s three years now–I’ve never felt farther from home.
That’s sad. And ungrateful I might add when others would attempt anything to cross borders and oceans to be here. But I guess if for others it takes three years to acclimatize, for the luckier others, less, for the unfortunate others, more.
I tried. God knows I did. It’s something that ought to happen without a hitch. But doing so has proven to be a struggle.
Maybe my definition of the word itself is fuzzy. Because for me home is where you most become yourself. At ease, carefree, fulfilled, happy. But this is probably why the feeling of belongingness in this land is challenging because my depiction is just so abstract.
I’ve moved quite a bit; settled in different towns and cities. Readapting was quite easy for some reason. Maybe because I always knew that these were temporary. Like four years in a campus dormitory sped by because I knew once I was done, I can waltz back to my mountains. Three years alone in a house by the outskirts of a city was a breeze, or another three years shuffling among flats in the deserts went by as swiftly. True there were challenges in every move, numerous ones, but I somehow glided with the changes.
Which gives me reason to believe that I’ve always associated home with a sense of permanence. And that is why getting to accept that being here for a long-term, if not permanent status, is arduous and demonstrating itself to be such a formidable undertaking.
I’m writing this obviously for my sake. Like a self-help missive to prod myself that there’s nothing and no one to make it better for me other than me.
Perhaps I should begin by redefining my perception of home. That it ought not to be singular, not necessarily physical–a more versatile, more encompassing definition. That I should not only associate it to where my family and loved ones are, or that it’s only home when I pay for the upkeep of the roof above my head. After all, I was able to make a home for myself at the top bunk of a rowdy, co-ed dorm room. Or at a grandpa’s pint-sized cabin near a river. And even at a flat shared with eight other people with varying personalities.
Home can be where you will it to be and not necessarily where you want it to be. Hence I should be able to create it, anywhere–so long as I put my heart to it. I was just too stubborn to start doing so.
After all, I live in a beautiful city. Topography’s just like that back in my town with its coniferous mountains. Weather here’s bipolar and so unpredictable but we have the best summers too. People are friendly, transit’s reliable most days, there’s plenty of jobs when you know where to look, and tons of adventures to do if you’re the outdoors type like me. Most importantly, this country has welcomed me with open arms and offered me an array of opportunities.
It should have been so easy for me to call this place home. But I stuck to my sentiments. I keep on yearning for people who are not here. I was missing the different kind of freedom that I indulged in elsewhere. And that a huge part of me was in denial, subconsciously thinking that I’m here on a quite lengthy vacation. These all need to change. It won’t be overnight for sure but I believe accepting the reality that my fate might be tied to this city is a big first step.
I will find my reasons to be ‘at home’, plenty of them. Both pragmatic and sentimental ones. It might take another three years, or three months, but I’ll get there eventually.