I am a child of immigrants, yet I was almost a teenager when my parents decided to pack a few of their belongings and flee in secrecy with their children to the west, with a hope to find a better life for themselves and for us.
Today, when Europe is united and moving around is easy and when the world is becoming globalized, it is difficult to imagine that once this continent was split into two ideologies and leaving the east behind meant one could never return. At least not without risking prosecution and imprisonment. A new generation has now grown up in this free Europe, learning from history books about the communism regime that once ruled their country.
Thus my life was spend as a foreigner. Being a sensitive teenager when I was uprooted and relocated, our immigration shaped my personality and my traits to a large extend. Despite my family's successful integration and adaptation, it was nevertheless an odd sensation to be sitting in social gatherings, with friends or in school, and discussing the current affairs or the state of "our country".
Or to participate in celebrations that dealt with that country's past, of the traditional or historical kind. I could never relate to these sentiments having no strong ties to my new home - no roots, no connection to past generations that lived there, no common history with it's inhabitants, nor a sense of familiarity with their traditions. Thus in time the need to feel those kind of emotions and that kind of belonging became my quest.
When we stay with my father in law, we always sleep in my husband's old room. I have once asked him how he feels about being able to visit his childhood home on regular bases. He smiled and replied, slightly confused; "I come to see my father, not this house".
When we took a walk around the neighborhood and passed his old school and met his childhood friends and I inquired about similar sentiments when it comes to these encounters, my questions left him puzzled. I tried to explain that the luxury of being able to revisit and sense one's roots is to me extraordinary as it is something I can not really experience.
Yet seeing his aloofness in this matter is not something that bothers me, quiet the contrary - it disperses the importance of the issue and clouds the purpose of my lifelong quest.
We always miss that which we do not have.
My husband will not care much about being able to visit places where he grew up, as that is a natural occurrence to him and he can do it freely, almost whenever he chooses to. While for me the ability to visit my childhood home becomes crucial and almost vital, because it is not possible - to him it holds no allure because it is possible.
Simultaneously I am also realizing the relativity of things and the idea of what a home realy means is being redefined in my perception. It can be any place, even somewhere in the gutter and yet it can also be many places at once.
Eventually, if we can remove ourselves from our narrow visions and mindset and if we travel far enough, our home becomes a much larger place. Astronauts in orbit around the Earth look down upon our planet and view the beautifully coloured globe below as their home - without borders and petty conflicts between nationalities. I experienced a similar feeling when I lived in the US - I no longer viewed only one country as my home, but the whole of Europe.
Thus the idea to completely belong to that one special place is slowly becoming more obscure and I begin to realize that I will never find it, because of the life I have lived. On the contrary, I rather embrace the fact that my home is nowhere and everywhere.
Today I feel at home right here with the man that I love and his family, which welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like one of their own. I am at home in this country that has been my shelter for the past decade, yet I will also always be at home with my own family, due to the strong ties we share, no mater where in the world they are.
I realize that my life is like a large tapestry, still in the making. Each pattern speaks of one unforgettable place in time - one that was my home for a while - and foremost of the people that made it feel as such. Ultimately home is a place I carry in my heart.
"I have been very happy with my homes, but homes really are no more than the people who live in them."