They say home is where the heart is.
In the past 5 years, my perception of a home has evolved in so many ways. When you leave your childhood home — your hometown, your native land or your country of residence or your motherland or however you feel to call it — you leave a piece of you behind. You may forget all about it. Or you may let it grow inside of you as a small wound that kind of acts up when the weather gets bad. It will ache whenever something reminds you of your home, because you know you left it too far behind.
If you’re one of the lucky ones — the ones who manage to forget — you will have a peaceful life, probably somewhere better, where you’ll find a decent job, new friends and a new partner, probably all foreign. You will always love home, but in a more detached way, kind of like an ex with whom you split up on good terms and with whom you still meet up for coffee once in a year or two.
But if you’re of my kind — the more emotional, clingy and not very stoic with our own decisions — that sting of pain in your heart will be quite chronic.
You will still benefit from all the material perks of being in a more favorable-for-a-good-life country. Your friends will be completely different, but great all the same. Your partner will love you just as well and will probably be a fan of all your foreign-country quirks and habits. They will gladly visit your family and meet with your culture to some (touristic) extent. You’ll probably have a nice apartment and an okay job in your field of study. You may even have a pet and call it with a name that reminds you of home.
But that decision — the one of leaving your home for some other country where you’d have an opportunity of some kind, be that education, career, love or even freedom of speech — you will always come back to it and roll it in the back of your mind, while you’re sipping a beer and chatting with your coworkers, or maybe when you’re breaking down to tears cause it’s that time of the month and you just found an ugly toy that you kept since kindergarten.
Your friends and loved ones may be extra-nice with you, saying something like “There, there, you will be able to visit home soon enough,” or “Don’t be sad about it, think of all the great things you achieved since you’ve lived here!”
You may feel sad and guilty for a long time after you’ve moved your life through borders and customs. Sad for all the things you no longer experience in your day-to-day life, like that horizon, the polite strangers on the bus and the hug of a family member. Guilty for all the people left in a less-resourceful state, while you had an opportunity to escape.
You might even still feel that way after years and years spent in another country. The different time-zone, the new type of building and the long-time partner that you really do love — just all so different from what you were used to at home. Well, there’s a chance you still won’t be able to call them your home either.
And even if your heart, physically and emotionally, belongs to somewhere and someone new, in reality it might be just cornered inside your chest, pressured by gratefulness and trying to beat in unison with commitment. And even after all you’ve achieved with your life and all the new things you now love oh so much – your heart might still simply be longing. Longing for home.