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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Home Hunting

A few months ago, my Dad sold the home I grew up in and, since I live an ocean away, much of what I had stored there got moved to the new place with him. 

Part of my recent holiday was spent sorting boxes of keepsakes into keep and toss piles, which was surprisingly more emotional for me than I thought it would be.  I have always chosen to take part or to go places rather than to buy things so discovering I was so sentimental came as quite a shock.  I dug through a mass of books, school assignments, posters, cassette tapes, playbills, ticket stubs, favourite toys as well as boxes of items made by my grandparents, given to me by family, and created by my mother. It struck me that all that I kept reminded me of what made me who I am.  Unfortunately, some of it had been damaged beyond repair. Other items just seemed too silly to keep. 

Now, as the old me slips away and the new me is still so far out of reach, I am afraid that tossing away those memories will make me disappear too. 

Do I matter anymore now that my things are stored in someone else’s house instead of my childhood home? 

I hadn’t realised until this clean out that the reason I had felt comfortable to roam was because I always had a home to return to when I needed.  That feeling is gone. Although I don’t really miss the house itself and I am very happy for my Dad’s next chapter, I feel like I have lost the one place where I always felt that I belonged. 

I’m okay being an outsider. That’s one role I grew accustomed to a long long time ago.  The difference is I was comfortable with and proud of who I was then.  I was confident in my skills and sure of my identity.  Now, I am struggling to keep my head above water, floating through a thick inhospitable fog.

Home is where the heart is.  I do believe that.  I know I have people who love me but most are so very far away.  My heart is so shattered I am afraid it is no longer capable of defining what my family and I need most. 

I will be a guest in that new home.

I am a tenant in mine.

I am a foreigner.

Where do I go now when I need to feel that warmth?

I am lost.  Please let me find my home.


Valdree said...

Oh babe, I am having house issues myself right now, I know how you feel.

Almost bedtime said...

Your post really struck a chord with me and I just wanted you to know that you are not alone in feeling lost. I left Britain more than 13 years ago to go to Philly. There I met my Canadian husband and we moved to Vancouver 3 years ago. In Philly I felt lost for a time but then as I made some really good friends and met my husband and started a family I felt like it was my home. When we moved to Vancouver I had to start all over again and to be honest I do not feel as settled as I did in Philly. Most of my friends in Philly were British or European ex-pats. They were people I could relate to, not only because they had the same up-bringing as me but also because they were also ex-pats so could relate to the struggles of living abroad. In Vancouver, most of my friends are Canadians and I think that is why I feel so isolated here as I have no one to share or who get my 'Britishness'. Perhaps your feelings of being lost are more than just your childhood things going into storage. Perhaps you feel more isolated than you realise in Britain because you are surrounded by people who might not get your humour or care about the politics of your country etc like you do (do you have lots of friends from the States in the UK?). Perhaps you need to re-define your sense of family, ie perhaps your new family (ie the one you are the mum of) should be where your heart is rather than your old home where you grew up. It's very difficult living abroad, away from your parents and your siblings and your friends who have known you for years. I think most ex-pats at some point or another experience what you are feeling now. These feelings come and go. I hope that one day you will find some place that feels like home.

Sandra Sutherland said...

Thank you to you both. Being an expat definitely throws me off more than I thought it would, The cultural differences are just enough to make me feel out of place more times than not. All the best to both of you in your searching for a place that feels like home too.