I just found this in some Word files I was cleaning up. I’m not sure when I wrote it, but I’ve been meaning for a long time to blog about “home”. I’m hesitant to post this, but maybe it will encourage me to explore the topic some more.
I still cry every once in awhile, many years later, when I think of the pain of leaving Bahrain or of not fitting into the States or of the struggles my brother and other MKs faced when they tried to fit in. I still feel it when I think of the wounds that were ripped open every summer that I returned to work at the re-entry seminar but also the subsequent healing I received. I think I’m fine, and then something makes me so homesick. But homesick for what? For where?
I remember a moment in Seattle before I started college, when my family went to an Indian restaurant with my aunt and uncle. Next to the restaurant was a little supermarket selling Indian spices and other foods. It smelled so much like a shop in Bahrain and the vivid memory of the souq smells hit me so suddenly and painfully that I had to hide my crying. How could I have explained to anyone why I was crying in a little Indian supermarket in Seattle?
In college a friend from Seattle asked me why I talked about Bahrain so much. I said, “How would you like it if you had left home for college knowing that you would never be able to go back?”
The first summer I worked at the re-entry seminar we watched a homemade documentary of an American adult MK’s first trip back to Papua New Guinea and her husband’s first trip there ever. As I watched her plane touch down, I could feel the tears and left the room. I sobbed in my room for an hour, realizing so hard that I would never return “home”.
Another summer at the seminar, I overheard an MK sobbing on the phone with his parents. He was so homesick for Nigeria and missed his friends so much. I remembered that same pain and wanted to tell him so badly that it would get better. That slowly, slowly the pain would subside. But he wouldn’t have heard me. He needed to go through it himself just like every MK does.
It does get better. And as I’ve moved many more times since then, I’ve added new things to my list to miss and be nostalgic for. But my homesickness now is a different type of longing. There is no place to go back home to. No matter where I go, even the most familiar places, are not where I’m from. I can live anywhere in the world and never be from there but never be from someplace else either. So my homesickness is for a place or person I hope to exist. A place to go to, not to be from because at this age it’s too late to be from anywhere. Even there, even then, will my homesickness completely subside?