Everywhere And Nowhere: What It’s Like To Not Have A Permanent Home

Ethan Sykes

Born and half-raised in a country you’ve never returned to. A country on a different continent and hemisphere. Another fifteen years growing-up where your grandparents and great-grandparents were originally from. Then five years in a new country, and two different cities, of your own choosing.

A mixed bag of mannerisms and traditions that make you a bit weird everywhere. Even in the place that you call “home”. You call it that because that’s where your family came from, where your brother lives, and that’s where you have a few friends from college left. Otherwise, you’re almost sure that there would be no reason to keep going back.

You’ve learnt how to deal with the remarks on the colour of your skin, or on the weirdness of your accent. You get told that your mastery of these languages is “almost” the same as a native speaker, but not quite. I am a native speaker. I’m just one with two languages and a lot of cultural baggage. You know it’s hard for people to accept that you don’t fit into one tight mold that they can neatly archive and categorise in their minds.

You have a name in one language and a surname in another. Nobody can get both right.

You yearn to belong somewhere, but you never will. You remind yourself of how your uniqueness makes you special and how you’ve seen so much in your relatively short life. So much more than a “regular” person.

It really does make you valuable, unique, distinctive. You have an innate ability to relate more easily to people, to put yourself in their shoes, to understand that there isn’t a single correct path in life. You understand that it’s about the journey and not the end-goal. That the more you see, experience, and do during this journey, the more fulfilled and happy you will feel. You get people and that they fuck-up even when they don’t mean to. They might just be having a bad day. You know that everyone’s day is different and you don’t forget it. You have a natural inclination toward empathy and compassion.

Even on the bad days, the ones where you crave old friends and the closeness of those bonds, I want you to know that you are truly inspiring. You have chosen to be free of restraints and borders. Free of being limited to the place where you were born or constrained by the bounds of nationality. You know that we’re all human. We all fundamentally want the same things. You know that borders and nationalism only cause pain and hatred. You choose people, and compassion, and love.

You are a nomad. You don’t know when your next move will happen. You don’t even know where you’ll go. But deep down, the one thing you are certain of, is that it will happen again. You crave the newness, the cultural shock, the steep learning curve. You want to cram as much as possible into your life. No regrets. TC mark

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