One of the most common questions anyone gets when traveling is “where are you from” or “where do you call home?” Personally, I find that question so difficult to answer.
Merriam-Webster defines home as “a place to live,” but is it really so simple? I believe there are so many different factors that go into defining what home is that it is much more complex than the simple dictionary definition. Home can be defined as the physical place where we reside, it can be defined by the people we surround ourselves with, it can be defined as the environment where we find the most comfort and solace. Home can be felt through memories and experiences, through taste and smells. Some of us are lucky to have a strong sense of home that is stable and sure, while others of us are not as fortunate. Some of us have such a strong sense of wanderlust that the feeling of being tied to one place is unbearable, while others are forced from their homes due to circumstances beyond their control. This again brings forth the question of “what is home?”
I have been one of the fortunate ones that have had a house to grow up in and family that was around growing up. Yet, I would say that my definition of home has evolved as I myself have evolved as a person. I never really felt any true affinity to where I grew up. I was always ready to get out at the first chance I got (the rural Northeast in the US didn’t suit me). Then I went to school in the city, but I never really felt like I could call the city home either. After meeting my husband this question became even more complex, we split our time between countries spending time in both India and the US. When in the US we were living in another city altogether away from my family, further clouding the definition of home in the States. Now, as we have decided to become a location independent family I find myself again faced with the question of where I call home.
I don’t feel a strong affinity towards any particular country. To be honest, as long as I have my basic needs met, I feel as though I am at home wherever I may be at that present moment. I don’t mind a complete upheaval of what food is available, where I’m sleeping, and what’s around me. For instance, I have felt both at peace and at home pretty much anywhere we have been, be it the US, India, Nepal, Bali, etc. Thus, I believe I feel at home as long as I am able to get my basic needs met (food, shelter, and of course wifi). I guess I have truly taken to heart the saying “home is where the heart is.” However, I will admit this has become somewhat more difficult—especially with starting a family.
While I may be comfortable with traveling so much, I must consider how all of the family members take to the adventure. For instance, Al (ds, 4) is definitely more comfortable in India in his own space with little changes to his environment. On the other hand, Mo (dd, 2) so far seems to easily go with the flow and enjoys the changes and adventure.“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” ~ Matsu Basho Click To Tweet
My husband and I grappled to determine which country we preferred the most. All countries present problems and struggles and you ultimately have to determine which set of problems you are most comfortable dealing with. This has led us to the decision to continue shifting between multiple countries and to take full advantage of what different regions of the world have to offer us. Of late I have struggled with this feeling of home as I have begun to feel less “at home” in India as opposed to when we are in the US, but perhaps this is all due to the decades of conditioning from growing up in the States. Another issue I struggle with is where “home” will be as my family gets older. Just as my husband and I deal with this question of where home is, my children will also have to confront this same question. In fact, many will as the demographics and global nature of the world continues to change. One question that weighs on my mind is if my kids will still want to travel and live between countries or will they long to be in one place, but what if the place they feel is home is not the same for all of us?
Truth be told, sometimes there is simply no simple answer to a question such as “where do you call home;” but all in all I don’t think that is a bad thing. There are so many beautiful places, people, and cultures in this world that if an individual has the opportunity to enrich their own lives by learning about and experiencing them, then, by all means, they must.
Personally, my difficulty with this question comes from my intense desire to travel, as well as from the unique perspective of the world my multicultural relationship has given me. For now, I will continue searching for “home,” but will be content with knowing that home will always be wherever I am with my family in tow.
Perhaps Matsu Basho has said it best “Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”