Come and Go | Quest

45
Home is not a place…It’s a feeling.

” You get a strange feeling when you leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people you love, but you miss the person you are at this time and place because you’ll never be this way  ever again…” { Azar Nafazi }

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An Expat’s quest for  a place to call “Home”- You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere.That is the price you pay for the richness of living and loving people in more than one place.

I recently visited my home country last May   with my daughter, her first trip to the Philippines, and for me, Oh well, I thought of  it as another home visit, but a  rather special homecoming because it’s the first time my daughter would meet her Grandmother and the rest of the family. It is also my first time to travel alone with an infant for 15 long  hours . Yes, alone.

As I sit in the plane, looking out in the window, thoughts in my head are clouding again–Hmmm, here I go again,  I’m a visiting Expat –living a double life.

Why do I say this?

The feeling of coming home with an infant in my arms and going through the airport is suddenly unreal to me. Almost the same as the time I went home for quick vacations from work  when I was living in Kuwait for the last 8 years. I was shocked and confused to return and realize how out of touch I was with people who I knew, places and life in the place I had lived for many long years. For the first few days my hands fumbled on my phone because I forgot how to make a call, or even reload my phone, not knowing the codes anymore. I become  unfamiliar with the common places such as banks, streets, and even my favorite shops. My memory is still full of how I lived my days in Kuwait. On the other hand, everything was so familiar and yet, feels so unfamiliar. Sinking back into my old life was almost too easy, and within days my new life in Germany seemed slightly surreal.

I saw some of my closest friends but the feelings is not the same as before. I couldn’t patch the gap that time had created. I could only settle on the present time.Walking through familiar streets and places becomes a new discovery. Some places haven’t changed much in a decade, and yet, the feelings I had is somewhat strange.

 

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No reason to stay is a good reason to go. 

Being able to slip from one life to another is a strange experience that many expats will relate to. By becoming an expat , I started a new life, but fragments of the old ‘me’ still linger in my native country, tempting me when I return.

I heard many times from fellow OFW ( overseas contract worker) , “I’m going home for good”. For good means that their life as expat wasn’t for keeps. The need to return to one’s old home is a never-ending yearning. That is why every home-coming is exciting, anticipated, and full of eagerness. But the secret that Expat doesn’t reveal is the shock of coming home.

Being an expat can be like being two people at once, split between two places. Half my identity belongs to Philippines, and by visiting, I revived that person, the person I was before I left. Even my feet set on another ground, a fraction of an inch of me belongs to Kuwait. It has been part of me and I couldn’t take that away. Walking now in the streets of Germany, I still feel very much alienated.

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It’s a funny thing coming home.Nothing changes.Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what changed is YOU… { f.scott fitzgerald}

After visiting my home country, I realize that it isn’t “home” anymore. Looking back at Kuwait, I can’t see myself calling that place my “home”either. In a way, of course,  Ph  will always be home, but that sense of relief at being at the end of my journey only came to me when I was back together in Germany, in our new “home”, with my  daughter & my husband.

Makes me think: what makes home into home?

Because some little things I am missing in Philippines and Kuwait  are present in my old life, waiting for me to return, but when I was in there, I felt incomplete, because part of me now belongs to Germany and my new life here.

I guess the Quest continues…

Have you had any experience of going back home after long years from abroad?

This is post is in response to this week Photo Challenge : Quest

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One thought on “Come and Go | Quest

  1. Almost every paragraph returned a smile on my face. The only one thing that’s different for me is that with my handful of close friends, and no matter where life has taken us, each time we get together when I’m back, we seem to pick up where we left of. And that’s very special to me.

    Longing for my native home though..not so much. I’ve been away for so long …So familiar and oh so not familiar…I resonate with that.

    Where is home is always the question isn’t it? I guess as cliche as it is, home is where the heart is and for me that’s my own family, being together in a (physical) home we own no matter where we are in the world, and feeling comfortably connected/rooted to the place we reside. BKK was not home for me and I guess we have to make NL our home-home now.

    Like

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