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.

7 Replies to “Where is home?”

  1. This is my country. It used to be my home.
    Like a solar plexus punch – that’s how strong those two little sentences felt! I imagine how it must feel to you. But, luckily, Sarah will not know, for her home will be this very world, all of it.

  2. I feel same although after having a child and seeing how important for my baby girl to have more family around her makes me reconsider home ha ha home is where your heart is and my home is my child now

  3. I can easily identify with it. A lot of my friends & family in my home country don’t understand my “love to facing the unknown” since they experience rather the opposite. This makes me feel sad sometimes. That’s why realising that I am not the only one, the “outsider”, but that there are more people with my mindset in this world, is a big relief for me. Thank you for sharing your experience.
    Regarding Sarah – I am sure she will (or is already) feeling home in multiple countries and multiple languages & cultures. It will be easy for her to understand the variety in this world. I can imagine that one day she would like to discover her roots more in detail, but inside her she will be a “world traveller”. I believe, as a child of multicultural parents in a different country, it will be very natural for her to live open-minded and embrace the beauty of travelling and discovering the unknown.

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