15 November 2008

What's home?

(Am still in England. This post was written ahead of time. Look at me, all prepared and whatnot.)

After the election, I was so proud that all of my "home" states pulled for Obama (not all of them givens, either):

Iowa, where I was born.
Pennsylvania, where I spent my childhood.
Vermont, where I spent my high school years and where my parents live.
Massachusetts, where I went to college and where my siblings live.
Indiana, where I studied for grad school.

Just as I was thinking about that, Astrid wrote a great post about what it takes to feel "at home" in a place, especially for expats. How the feeling of belongingness can come and go so easily.

And I wondered, where's home for me?

As the above list should indicate, when people ask me "where I'm from," it's not so simple to answer. The first answer is "the US," but after that it gets more complicated. I usually say Vermont, which is, of all those states, where I identify most as "home," both because it's the place I go back to for holidays, and because I'm proud of it and fiercely attached to it as a (beautiful) place.

Although those who ask that question clearly identify me as a foreigner, another answer is that I'm also "from" here. This is where I live. This is what I have chosen. Through my husband and our house and his family and the Catalan language, I am making a thousand new little rootlets to create "home" every day.

But feeling at home is another story. One minute everything makes sense, I'm grooving with the language, I feel like an adopted Catalan, I get cultural references, jokes, and place names, I belong in my neighborhood, I know what's what and can steer my way around the city like a local. The next minute--boom!--I'm so darn foreign, all gangly and blond and my words get tangled up and I don't have my ID yet and I don't get the joke and the explanation doesn't make sense and this is so not home. Sigh.

Ultimately, I would define home as the place where my loved ones are. Thus I can simultaneously talk about "going home" for Christmas, and "coming back home" when Christmas is over.

Mostly, home is where the Mister is. It's in his arms.

1 comment:

Astrid said...

Home is definitely where the loved ones are, and I have too many 'homes'. I go home to Bergen, home to Milan and home to Toulon. But then I feel a bit home where I studied - Nottingham, or where we got married - Lavagna (Italy) and spent so many weekends. Sometimes I just feel spread all over the place which is at times comforting and confusing :)

Have you had a good curry or apple crumble in England yet? Oh, or those lovely scones they serve in tea houses?

Enjoy you stay :)