Back in 1989 I set off on and adventure. On the 19th of April I left Boston and moved to London. I'd planned to live there for three years. Two weeks after I arrived I met my now husband and the rest is history as they say. It also created a huge question of what is home....
You, by now, are wondering why I'm in such a reflective mood...bear with me. So since 1989 I have lived in London, Calgary, London, Moscow, Houston, Jakarta, Dubai, London and Dubai. Before that I lived in a small city outside Boston and spent my summers on Cape Cod. Aside four the four years of university in western Massachusetts, I lived in the house that my father had lived all is life in...
So my move in 1989 was a huge break. The whole essence of home was neatly tied up in stability and the factors that made me, well me. In 1989 away from home and all it entails I could see me - I was not defined by assumptions (other than what people in London assumed all Americans were) of where I came from, where I went to school and who my family was. This for me was a defining moment. I was in charge of what people thought - well , sort of...they of course brought there own preconceptions.
So during these years wandering the world, the question of 'home' has been raised and not just for me but for my children. Because unlike me that haven't had the stability of home and community to hold them and shape them. At times this has caused me great worry. My kids have never been like anyone else...they have never had the comfort of fitting in (why I would want this for them when I have always felt a misfit I don't know - the things we yearn for).
I still have dreams of returning to my parents house on the Cape. It changes and morphs in these dreams but I always know it's my home. This house was sold back in 2001 and before that I used to think back to the house outside Boston....as if somehow in my dreams I was at least still trying to hold onto home - whatever that may be.
As I write this post it's the third time in less than a year that I want to go home even though I know I won't recognize much of it. My uncle and Godfather is dying right now and won't last the week. My roots - Irish- are calling out to me to go home - home to grieve, to celebrate and to reconnect. When my great aunt passed away at the age of 102 in February, I couldn't go home and now I find I'm in that same situation. This week is the Emirates Airlines Literary Festival and I am part of it....I have taken on responsibilities and I can't let others down.
So my family will be gathering this week and I won't be with them. I will however be united in spirits with my grandparents who left Ireland behind and were never able to go home - to laugh, to grieve, to reconnect. In some strange way by becoming a expat I have picked up a bit of them that left home to make a new life. They knew the pain of not being with family when things were celebrated or mourned. It was what they had to give up for their new life and I guess it's what I have to too...however sometimes it doesn't make the pain of being away any less.