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“And where is home for you?” I have made a point to never give the same answer to this question. My answers are sometimes brief, sometimes longwinded, sometimes profound but most often punctuated by a shrug and big eyes.

There has always been, in my family’s jargon, a dual meaning to the word home. As a child, we had a home in Belgium, where we lived, but we would go back to Kenya in the holidays, where we were from. The first is the place which we inhabit and the second is the place which our loved ones inhabit.
For a while I believed that I was on an uneasy journey of acceptance of the phrase “I don’t know”.

The discomfort of being unpatriotic is not one often explored or even sympathetically glanced at. In most conversations, my lack of allegiance to a nation is seen as an act of disregard of “who I am” or “where I come from”. The legality of duo-nationality is one that is supposed to bring me ease and comfort, where it is finally possible to belong to two places at once. For others, once the two passports can be legally claimed, the situation feels like a closed case. But instead for me, it simply widens the gap of the in between. The answer can never be finite.

I’ll let you in on my secret. At some point, a few years ago, I hugged my father in the arrivals of a new city and country that I had never been to (Bangkok, Thailand) and felt to my very core that I was at home. As an adult, I carry my home with me everywhere I go, and I also leave it in the trusty hands of my friends and the embrace of my family. I have learnt that home will never be a singular physical location for me.

Now I see more clearly that the answer to the question is “nowhere and everywhere”. (Although a shrug and big eyes might do the question more justice).

7 thoughts on “Home Leave a comment

  1. People who live in the one place all their lives can never understand what this question does to you. Personally, it usually makes me angry. I worked with some working class central-belt Scots for a year who made me feel like an outcast because I didn’t know who the important families in their area were, who got stabbed at the weekend, which local superstore had the best deals, what factories were closing down.. I actually felt guilty for speaking more than one language, for making comparisons, for being home-sick, for questioning something that was permanent and unchangeable for them. They were actually threatened by it. It’s not about class, and it’s not about having a sense of community, it’s about being open to questioning. I feel at home with people who allow you to question things.

    • “I feel at home with people who allow you to question things.” Wow Laura, that is so true. I’ve never quite been able to put my finger on why I gravitate to the people who I gravitate towards and that is exactly it. I usually find myself with people who identify as ‘minorities’ because of the mutual feeling of ‘uneasy settlement’.

    • I have watched that Ted talk before and I really liked it! Yeah I think it gets very interesting when you are blessed with the opportunity to choose where you want to make a home. Some people just roll the dice and others feel a deep resonance with a place. I slightly envy people who feel that emotional connection sometimes. It would maybe help with the uncertainty.

  2. The discomfort of being unpatriotic is not one often explored or even sympathetically glanced at. This is such a powerful statement and one I can relate to having a dual identity (on more levels than one). We can be treated with great suspicion – but I have also found that it was me first who needed to embrace all parts of myself without hesitation that stopped people in their tracks when I said I am from Kenya and the U.K., neither lesser of greater in my heart. Both just are.

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