I recently read an incredible article about an expat leaving Dubai and it got me thinking where is home? As our gal Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home…” but Dot, can I call you Dot? is that true? For many third culture expat kids, the word “home” can be a bit of a dilemma. Where do we call home when our parents move away from where we grew up? I remember my first week of Uni when everyone was asking each other where they were from and having to explain the weird concept of being from a country I’d never lived in and living in a country that wasn’t officially home.
Born in Dubai, I always considered that as my home makes sense as I spent most of my life there, however, the minute I left for Uni my parents moved and I could no longer go back to the house I lived in for so many years. It was a little heartbreaking and a lot confusing.
I believed that home is where my parents lived, however, I’m not quite sure anymore – they’d gone from living in Dubai for 24 years to Qatar for another 5 years and now living in Sri Lanka (or as I have termed the jungle). Having spent almost a month in Sri Lanka now I have to say I feel far from comfortable here and this isn’t me being up my own arse, it’s not that I’m not proud of being Sri Lankan but I can’t speak the language, can’t read the language and struggle with the distinct line between men and women (a post for another time). The mind-set is completely foreign to me.
I’ve always been a little jealous of my friends who look forward to going home – to a house or town they know so well and have grown up in, seeing all their old friends and carrying out traditions – especially during the holidays.
I think that it causes a sort of identity crisis and also a sense of wandering, where do I consider my home? When I moved out for the first time I made sure that I went all out on making the apartment as cosy and homey as I could. I’m someone who thrives on stability and comfort and the thought of having to move, not having somewhere as a base where I can fall back on is bloody scary. Call me a wus, I dare you. Did you? That’s really mean, I’m spilling my heart out here. I think because of the lack of a stereotypical home, I try hard to make my current house a relaxing and comforting place – to me that’s part of the definition of home.
Even though I have the passport, for me, Sri Lanka will always be a holiday destination as I just can’t make the connection of home – maybe over time as my parents stay put permanently it’ll change but for now I would consider my house in Qatar as home even though its only semi-permanent. Isn’t that scary? I have struggled with this for a long time and will continue to struggle as my definition of home changes.