Home is a fairly foreign concept to me. I am a wanderer by nature, never putting down roots for longer than a few years or so. This has never really bothered me in the past. There was always something more to see, do, explore that kept me moving. More recently however, certain experiences have led me to question this lifestyle, desire a home and people that await anxiously my return.
Today was one of those days. I watched a friend of mine reunite with his family after 25 years of separation. Scattered from their homes during war times, they all were forced on buses and led to refugee camps in Thailand. Those who were lucky enough to be sponsored, continued on to America. Those that were not either settled in a new country or waited until conditions were better and returned to resettle what was left of their land.
Sela’s family was fractured in two. His mother, one of four siblings, was brought to the US; the rest settled on a small plot of farm land. As we sat around the family table today, sipping fresh coconut water from their backyard garden and eating a communal meal fit for a king, it was a beautiful sight. His grandmother had not seen him since he was 5 years old. His aunts and uncles with their young children have only faint memories and snipets of stories they’d heard about the young boy in the pictures. Yet, in this moment, distance nor time seemed to matter. They welcomed him home with open arms.
He was welcomed to a place he’d never been or seen with generosity and genuine excitement solely because he shared blood. Now jealousy is not becoming for anyone but this did stir up a bunch of mixed emotions for me. My parent moved away from all of our family before I was born. My limited interactions with my mom’s side and my dad’s small family has left me with a few close connections but essentially many of my friends have become the family I never knew. I chose this route, having had opportunities to connect with blood relatives that I opted not to pursue, and I do believe that I am surrounded by incredibly wonderful people. Through my travels, and having moved almost every two years, my family is spread around the world, made up of people with a mixed bag of personalities, ambitions, and ways of expressing love. Some I keep closer contact with than others, but when we are together it is just like Sela and grandma–excitement and happiness as if no time had passed.
I may not have a home in the physical definition of the word. There will always be places I feel more of a connection to than others and during certain stages of my life, those will feel like home. Sometimes I have to allow myself to feel jealousy and confusion over why there is not one place or home I gravitate towards, yet I must remember that I am lucky in many ways to have both the family born to me and that which I have created. When I am with these people it feels like home no matter where we are, even if it just might break the bank to visit them all. I’m thinking I might need to impose a “family” reunion one of these days. I am thinking somewhere tropical, whose in?