Where is home?

“…Where paths that have an affinity for each other intersect,
the whole world looks like home, for a time.”
Hermann Hesse

 

Every couple of months I fly back to Romania to spend time with my family and  help my daughter understand my culture. The moment we land I switch to Romanian and I start telling her about my roots. “Mommy was born here, this is Romania and here  your grandparents live and your favorite person so far, your cousin L. This is my country. It used to be my home”. The word “home” stirs mixed emotions inside myself and she feels my hesitation. It is unfortunately difficult for me to explain to her, in the simplest words, that I don’t know anymore where home is.

I feel at home in Romania, because it feels familiar. There I have my roots, my ancestors, my family, my mother tongue, my churches, my first love, my first failures, fears, lessons about life. Romania, in my heart, is a fairyland, with dualistic forces permanently fighting for surviving. I miss it all the time, but I also feel as an outsider when I’m there. I have always felt this way. Unsettled. I haven’t, however, left Romania in search for a better  life, but for the love of facing the unknown.

I do feel at home in Israel as well, but it’s the country of my partner.  I’m a “guest” there, a welcomed one. I’m the Christian who sits quietly at the Seder, the one that reads the English Haggadah. From the very beginning Israel felt like an adoptive family. It took me time to find familiarity, common points, but my husband has always been there for me, to guide my steps, to make me feel integrated. Not only him, but also his family, his friends, his neighbors, his tribe. In a way, in Israel I’ve learned to find intimacy within a culture that was not mine, but it became a part of me.

In Netherlands I feel at home the most because here we built a nest for our small family, a shelter for our interfaith relationship. Because here I found love and I gave birth to my daughter. Here I have my bike and nobody freaks out when I’m telling them that I have no interest in driving a car. In a way, a home and a community took shape here for us, while we were busy loving each other, or loving our daughter.

To a certain extent I felt at home in every single country I’ve studied or worked, even when I had to travel so often that it felt like I was living out of a suitcase. Maybe the soul of a nomad hides inside of me and because of it I learned to feel at home in my own presence and in the presence of people I love and not inside particular buildings, or borders. Today I feel at home where my mind is at ease, where I can sleep through the night, where I love life and I accept it as it comes.

I can’t however help but wonder where would my daughter feel at home? Would she need a specific country, culture, or language to feel welcomed? Would she maybe choose my motherland? Or that of her father’s? Would she have to travel this Planet to find what home is? Maybe she would… I just hope that by then people would be kinder and  a bit more compassionate.

Photo Credits: DAniel Grecu Photography.

DAniel Grecu is born in my home town,  Giurgiu (Romania) and he is one of my favorite Romanian photographers. To find out more about his spectacular work, check him up on Instagram.

Standing like a tree challenge

“I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;”

My dear friends, let me tell you a secret. I love trees. I’m even one of those weirdos that love hugging them. It gives me peace and it quiets my mind. Thus when I need my time alone, I go near them, they are my temple, their presence helps me to reconnect to myself and it nurtures me. This is why at the beginning of February I’ve decided to become one. No, I haven’t lost my mind, I meant it in a metaphorical way. I’ve embarked on a  28 days “standing like a tree” challenge. It was one of my new year resolutions to pick up a challenge and, as I didn’t see myself running any marathons yet, I’ve decided to choose something that I could do on my own, without any pressure from the outside. I also wanted something that would not invite any competitiveness inside me. Something that will take place far from the viewers’ eyes and it will turn my attention inwards. As a mom of toddler I’m always on the run, doing something, and I hardly get any time or space for my meditation, my yoga practice or myself. In a way, on a deeper level, I chose this challenge because I was intensely missing being connected to my inner self, the one where my hell and heaven are passionately dancing. I had therefore a lot of expectations from my “challenge”. I was expecting to bring stillness to my thoughts, some clarity with regards to my emotional baggage, but also an improved energy.

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“Remind me not, remind me not” is Valentine’s again

Today the world  woke up to an abundance  of love, balloons, chocolate, flowers, kisses and dreamy looks. If this image triggers resistance inside yourself, please continue reading. In fact, even if it doesn’t, keep on reading.

Yes, today we celebrate love. Again.  Aren’t we tired of it? Exhausted even? I honestly had enough! I always had enough! So much that I can afford the luxury of saying that maybe it has always been too much. I’m not necessarily talking about the one I’ve received, but more about the one I offered lavishly to anyone and anything:  my family,  my husband, my friends, the people that I didn’t  like but I forced myself to come to like,  the ones I’ve  forgiven, to my passions, even to my thoughts or my inner demons.

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Expat vs migrant – Talking about identity

 

During last October I visited an exhibition, presented within a project of “Open Source Government” called “Ideology Meets Implementation”. In this context I took part in an interactive artwork created by Pendar Nabipour, an Iranian artist, living and working in the Netherlands. As presented in the attached picture, visitors were asked, at the entrance, to choose between acceding the place as either expats or migrants. Instinctively I’ve chosen the “expat” gate, without questioning my choice. Later on, while talking with the artist, I understood that the big majority of visitors emphatically identified themselves with the migrants. The experience made me feel uncomfortable and it stirred an inner debate. Why did I so confidently choose the expat identity? After some deliberate reflection,  I began to understand why.

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see you soon, goodbyes, farewell, hello, story

See you soon “J”!

A story about goodbyes

 

 

When you live abroad, far from your parents and your childhood friends, you gradually learn how to leave behind someone dear. When you become an expat and people are coming and going in and out of your life, saying “farewell” becomes a constant. In time, a permanent feeling of longing  for someone becomes part of you and, because of it, you come to acknowledge any emotions gravitating towards leave-taking situations.

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One family, two religions

 

The blessings and challenges of an interfaith family

As mentioned in our introductory post “Raising citizens of the World“, we are an interfaith family, I’m an Orthodox Christian and my husband is Jewish. Our family is a beautiful syncretism and, for us,  religion is a source of long hours of passionate dialogues. Since the very beginning we enjoyed talking through our beliefs, but we’ve never allowed ideological debates to push us apart. Even though we like the excitement that accompanies religious or metaphysical discussions, we often end up agreeing that the search for the sacred is a very private quest, which doesn’t have to be embraced by the other.

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Raising citizens of the World

 

Almost ten year ago I’ve met the love of my life in a modern art museum, in Amsterdam. We fell in love at first sight and from the very beginning, we learned that we were coming from different countries, cultures, and religions. He was born in Israel and I, in Romania. He was living in Amsterdam, while I was commuting from Bucharest to Brussels. We were  both, to some extent, living far from our motherlands, families and friends, working and socializing in English, a language which clearly was not our native one.

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