“Home is the place that goes where you go, yet it welcomes you upon return. Like a dog overjoyed at the door. We’ve missed you is what you hear, no matter how long you’ve been gone” - Michael J Rosen
Once again, like with most questions in life, there is no simple answer. To this day, when people ask me “where are you from?” my answer is not a straight-forward one. Instead, I always feel the need to share a short story in response. “I was born in Israel, but I lived in seven different countries, mostly in Argentina, where my parents, my husband and children are from, and now I’m from Durham, NC”, and then I have an urge to add "I’m a citizen of the world”. Oy! So, where IS home?
Let’s start with question #1, how is it possible to make every place home? Well, I need to give credit to my parents for that!
- To start, they always made me feel we were on a mission. It wasn’t about an unstable life, but a life with a purpose. We were moving for my dad’s job and we all had a share in that job. My dad worked for the Israeli Foreign Ministry and I always was a little ambassador for my country. The purpose was to bring with me my homeland and share it with my new home until I can share it with another home, and then another... and at the end we all learn that we are part of one big home.
- They always taught me that I was part of a community that was all over the world, and being part of that community gave me a sense of belonging, wherever that community was. I can’t remember having arrived to any country and not being invited that first Friday to a family Shabbat dinner with the same prayers, tastes, and traditions we had at home.
- They also made me believe - and I still do!- that there were always friends waiting to meet me in other places. I cried for a week saying goodbye to my friends, but I was also excited to go and meet those who were waiting for me. Coming into a new school it gave me all the confidence I needed to make new friends “who were waiting for me” -- something I carry with me even today.
- And finally, my parents would recreate my environment as if every place was the final destination, not a transition. It wasn’t about “we will live here only for two years”, but it was about “this is home now”. Believe me, it worked!
My husband always reminds me, it has to do with my personality. But more than that, it has to do with my choice of how I want to live. I could cry for what I am leaving behind, or I could choose to believe that what I have I can still have anywhere I go, and what was there for me will still be there even if I move.
Now to question #2, which one is really home? That’s a more philosophical question. At this point “home” is larger than a country for me. Yes, Home is the country I was born in, no doubt about it, even if I left at a young age and even if when I visit (visit home?) I feel a stranger in many ways- from my accent to the way of living. But I belong there, and belonging is home. Home is being with my childhood friends wherever they are around the globe every time I see them. Home is always when I’m with family who is also happened to be spread out around the world. Home is when I taste that food from that country where I used to live. Home is listening to the languages I was born into. Home is listening to the songs I grew up with. Home is my parents. Home is being with my husband and my kids even if it is in a hotel room. Home is my house no matter where it is. As Rabbetzin Twerski wrote “home has nothing to do with bricks and mortar and furnishing, it has everything to do with the spirit which fills it”.
There is a famous song in Spanish, “No soy de aqui, ni soy de alla.” which means “I’m neither from here nor from there”, but I'd rather sing it “I’m from here and I’m from there”.
Home is a feeling, not a place. To me “home” is a state of mind, not always a single place but many places. Home is a place that goes where I go.