June 26, 2012

Home Is...

My whole life, I have been searching for a home. Or rather a sense to belong somewhere.
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.

Yet this kind of disconnection made it also very easy for me to leave my new home and leave I did. In each new country I kept looking for the same sense of home and even though I adopted many new traditions and even in some cases felt stronger about an issue than the natives did, in time I realized that perhaps my search to truly feel completely home somewhere was futile. Particularly when I returned to the country of my origins only to realize that it lacked in providing the sense of it being a familiar home that I hope it would be, as it has changed beyond belief since I was a child.

It has been many decades since I lived with my parents, who themselves harbour the hearts of gypsies and have relocated numerous times and even moved between countries. Thus when I visit them, I visit their home, not mine.
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."
Nancy Reagan



(All images in this post taken in our home and in and around the home of my father in law.)

27 comments:

Rahul Bhatia said...

A very thoughtful post which answers many questions and also leave some unanswered. Being rootless can give the feel of all world being your home and this is one which one needs to embrace with time!At the same time being rooted to one place gives one an identity of belonging to one place:)Very well written...

Elizabeth said...

You gave me enough to ponder over because just like you I always try to find "home".

Elisabeth said...

The 'idea' of home is such a vexed one, Zuzana. I feel 'at home' here in Australia but I grew up with a mother whose disconnection from her homeland affected me deeply.

To be a migrant, to be the child of migrants, to be married to a migrant can also affect us. Those of us who are lucky enough to live our entire lives essentially in the one place we call home can share the pain of the displaced one.

Thanks for a haunting and most poignant post, Zuzana.

ladyfi said...

As the child of a diplomat, I moved around all my childhood so can totally relate to your sentiments.

Home really is where the heart is.

A lovely insightful post!

Kath said...

Very touching and very interesting. We have moved from several houses where we have restored them and made them into beautiful houses. people asked me "how could you leave such a lovely house?" and I say they're just bricks, wood and windows. I have a picture which says "A house is built from bricks and beams, a home is built from love and dreams".
XX

Brian Miller said...

home is nowhere and everywhere...i so get you here...i have a vagabond spirit in me...wanderlust....we have now lived in this house for over 5 years...well beyond anywhere else i have ever lived...and to be honest i do not care much for the town we are in...but over time i have accepted it as home knowing that when the time comes the universe will move me again...and maybe not...

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Hilary said...

Yes, Home is where you find it, live it, love it. Much like love itself. :)

wanderingbetweenworlds said...

such a beautiful post. I could truly relate in a lot of ways. we were bounced between countries and continents in my early childhood. North America, Europe and back again. A foot in two world, not belonging to any one in particular. europe held my earliest memories and my heart. my father's traditions were carried here and so we lived a european ( black forest Germany) life in a place I felt had no soul ( or at least didn't resonate with mine) I was always "homesick" for my home across the ocean and my family. going back didn't soothe the ache because you really can't go back, all things change. I'm still trying to find home. It is in the heart somewhere. I just haven't reached it yet. Such a moving post. xo

Kat_RN said...

I moved across town to my first apartment when I was almost 18. I left the state at 20, and have spent more years than that traveling and living in different places. I can visit the place I grew up, but not cheaply.
Home, however is right beside me. My Sweet Husband is my home, hope yours is too.
Kat

Zuzu said...

Although I can return to my childhood home in just a couple of hours, everything has changed. Both my parent's home and grandparent's home have been enlarged and do not look anything like they did when I was a child. This is true for the surrounding neighborhoods and how we think as well. Instead of thinking of a city or country as our home, we are now beginning to think of the world as our home.
So for me, I carry loved ones close in my heart - and they are my "home", wherever I may go.

Sandi McBride said...

I love hearing about your life Zuzana...you make me feel like family...
Sandi

Lilybets said...

...also I don't know what is a home, the sweet sense of protection that you can feel when you open its door,the sweet embrace that you feel when you recognise your things,I'm living like a woman swimming between her life,it's sad sometimes to see that I have not builded anything in my life and time goes away.Yes, those photos are of some places close to Lugano,I love them!

Sandy said...

I think the photos of your "new" home are beautiful. I can relate to many of your feelings stated here. I've always lived in one country (USA) but my parents moved many times, so I lived in many different homes and transferred to new schools in different areas/states. Luckily they didn't move when I was in high school because that is probably the most difficult time for many to adjust. My Mom never looked back and wasn't the least bit sentimental. Home was always her current house. But I love to re-visit all the homes I have lived in. Some have not survived well and others look even better then when I lived there. It's sad because some towns have not weathered the years well either. Come to think of it homes and towns are like people - some people "weather" well and look good for their age while others do not. I always wondered what it would be like to live in a town one's whole life and not move at all. I've lived in five different states, attended seven different schools (not counting college), lived in at least eight different homes growing up (that I can remember), lived in several places while in college and five different homes while married. Somehow I always managed to make new friends even with being on the shy side. We'll probably move one more time when we can't take care of this house anymore and need to downsize. Even our country has changed so much from what it was that sometimes I don't recognize it (or like it). Maybe that's what happens as one gets older. Excellent post Zuzana and I'm so happy for you in your new home with your new family!

Myrna R. said...

A lovely post Zuzana. It's so human to seek a place of belonging. Glad you found yours.

Colleen said...

This is so beautifully perceptive Zuzana and although our lives and experiences are very different, I believe you have described how you feel in such a way that I can almost completely understand you and where you are coming from in this matter. There is something...some part of your identity that we seem to search out when we live far from our roots and families. And yet as you say, home ultimately is with you in your heart always and that is a very comforting and beautiful thought. Home is those you love.

Angela Bell said...

Home ,yes where is it ,I live in lovely rugged Cornwall but I was born in outer London and home seems to be the bank of the Thames ,swans, ,a sense of history.I really think my home is where my heart is so it is a moveable feast. You have found your hearts home !love Angela

Angela Bell said...

Home ,yes where is it ,I live in lovely rugged Cornwall but I was born in outer London and home seems to be the bank of the Thames ,swans, ,a sense of history.I really think my home is where my heart is so it is a moveable feast. You have found your hearts home !love Angela

Julie Danielle said...

What a very nice post! I often wish we could move back to where I grew up. Life really is different here but then I moved away at 18 and am now 33 so things WILL be different there as well. I am trying hard to be content where are right now but it can be hard sometimes.

sprinkles said...

As usual, I can totally relate to this post!

My family moved a lot when I was a kid growing up too! I was very shy as a child and didn't make friends easily. I never really felt like I fit in anywhere, and I still feel like that as an adult.

I live in a small town, about 45 minutes from the capital city. I've been asked several times why I don't just move there since I'm going to school there now and have commuted there for work for so many years. I used to say because of my family. And maybe to a certain extent it still is. My mom would be alone otherwise, as my brothers don't live in the same state and I don't think they keep in touch with her much.

But I also think it's because this is where I've lived the longest. I really don't have anything holding me here other than my mom. But I've been here the longest and the thought of another move just isn't appealing right now. Who knows what the future will bring though.

Rajesh said...

Wonderful insight into your life.

Janet said...

I love the quote by Nancy Reagan..."homes are really no more than the people who live in them." So happy to hear that you are feeling at home with your husband and his/your new family. Beautiful photos, Zuzana!

SandyCarlson said...

Your heart speaks to mine as I adjust to get used to life in this paradise I sought for so long and now have but still feel mixed up about at times. Thank you for this post. These lines speak to my heart: "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."

Lonesome George, RIP.

A Plain Observer said...

I resonate so much with what you write in this post as I always do with your writing. I have only lived in 3 countries, but I also feel the lack of belonging. I left my country Colombia as a teenager unable to experience the beauty of those years. I entered a country that had customs I couldn't relate to and although I have adopted most of them, also most of them are simply holidays with no other meaning than a festivity.
Great writing Zuzana.

Rustique Gal said...

Zuzana,
A beautiful post. I, like your husband have roots and now live back here where I came from. I lived 20 years across the country in Colorado, and I now feel at home in the West. I love Montana and Wyoming and New Mexico like they are mine. But it is a wonderful thing to be back in the busom of the family and the old friendships that never left me. And of course, the new ones forged from pieces of the past.
Have a wonderful Weekend!
Hugs,
Sherry

Betsy Brock said...

When I was growing up, my family moved to different towns and states every couple of years. I was always the new girl in school and don't have a childhood home to go back to. I know that doesn't compare to moving to different countries, but I do get a little sense of what you feel and what is missing. I'm thankful my boys have grown up in the same house they were born in...same neighbors, same town and friends...same school from kindergarten to graduation. There is a sense of stability that comes with that. I kind of hope we never move and that Taylor can come 'home' and bring his kids to see where he grew up. Having said all of that...I do think that home is where you make it...and in your heart. There is a sense of independence that comes from being uprooted and able to survive moving and such...I think it helps you grow and mature in ways you may not have been able to do otherwise!
:)

A Lady's Life said...

I share your sentiments here more than you know.
But Russell Peters, an East Indian Comedian stated it very well.
He always said he was East Indian until he went to India and found out he wasn't. Just like African Americans are not African . They are just black. He said he finally knows who he is. He is Canadian. He is what his country made him.
Things change so much. I like to go back and show my kids where I grew up but nothing is left. Everything changes, people, places and what was disappears very fast.I can't find my footsteps. It's like I never was.
So.. life teaches to walk forward because there is no point to keep looking back.