Or is it a feeling?
I just read a story by Hurriya Burney ( @burneyhurriya) called “Where Are You Really From?” and it struck a chord with me.
I grew up in Texas, but kept wanting to go abroad to the Europe I had read about as a child, a Europe that had already changed by the time I arrived. It had just come through a traumatic war and it was beginning to put itself back together again. I was starting to grow up and form who I was to become.
Because of my interest in art, I went first to Paris. That was the start of an on-again off-again affair with France that eventually became something of a difficult, contentious, lifelong love affair. I kept going back until I felt more at home there than where I grew up.
In the beginning I sometimes felt rejected, but later, after forty years, fully integrated. It took longer than I expected, though. That’s not necessarily the fault of France. I was a Texas kid, after all.
And I do tend to create my sense of home in the small space around my body, introvert style.
Now I think that anywhere I can have a real conversation with my wife, where I can read or draw or write quietly, I’m as home as I’ll ever be.
Having said that, no place feels as welcoming to the person I have become over the years as France does. It’s more than welcoming, it’s beautiful and interesting in equal measure. If I still had the money to live there, I’m sure it would be number one on my list of possible homes.
I don’t expect to find a sense of home in any certain place anymore, though. Not like I did when I was young when I was sure home was a function of locale. Maybe I’m a bit more comfortable in my own skin, as they say. Or maybe living in any Latin culture fits my energies fine and as long as I can do that, I’m home.
I sympathize, though, with anyone who is somehow out of step with the culture they were born into. But I’m glad I didn’t solve that problem, because the search for a home has led me to a lot of interesting places and people. It led me to discover a much wider life than if I had stayed where I came into the world.
Searching for a home has led me to myself.
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