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