What is home?
Home is the warmth I feel from the crook of Rami’s neck on the bridge of my nose when I can’t deal with the world.
It’s stifled laughter and exchanged looks between my brother, dad and I as my mom performs a spontaneous musical monologue about a loaf of bread. (You’d have to know her.)
Home is my walk home with my nephew from his daycare in the afternoons, stopping to greet every living creature, picking leaves off bushes and collecting handfuls of rocks.
It’s expressing fear and pain and excitement in a cozy coffee shop with friends who are more like sisters.
It is utter honesty and deepest joy.
It’s all the little bits that made me- my hometown, my family members, childhood friends and all those who educated me. The best friends and the best days. Long cries and stories told over and over again.
But everyone wants it to be a place.
“Where do you live? Where’s home?” ( As if they were one and the same.)
If home is where I park my car, where my pillow sits wrinkled, where I receive my mail, where I laugh during Friday night dinners with the Morrison clan, where I’m learning my second language, then my home is in northern Israel.
But if home is where all my memories live, where my colloquialisms hail from, my first culture, where I studied my major, the place I married my husband, a room surrounded by my family, then my home is somewhere in the Lone Star State.
How do immigrants decide what home is? In Israel, most everyone you meet came from another country in the not too distant past. Some came as children and assimilated almost by accident. Others come as teens or adults and have more definite decisions to make, language courses to take, the sometimes bumpy road of multicultural relationships. You hear about people who never really melted into the culture, never learned the language, stayed somewhat fixed in a familiar subculture. There’s a lot overt and covert pressure not to become this person. “You have to make the choice to BE here.” Let your old life go, your old culture, the familiar norms. Embrace where you are now or you will never belong here. THIS is home now.
I suppose this rational argument that has certainly proven true for some, dictates that home is where you choose it to be, the basket in which you put all your eggs. I applaud those who have been capable of this, truly. When I first arrived in Israel, I would feel guilty for the things I couldn’t let go of, for the way I was afraid to try out my new language, for the way everyone could still spot me as an American. I thought I could will myself to be a new person but constantly fought the feeling of not wanting to be different at all. It has taken me two years to realize that for me and maybe other romantics, finding home is not as simple as making a choice. There is this lingering ache, this need to fit, this desire for connection that makes it hard for me to embrace something that doesn’t embrace me back.
Home is belonging- where you have a place at the table, where you both give and receive.
Something Rami and I have realized drastically, starkly, piercingly in the last 2 years, is that we can never have just one home. Our worlds will never truly combine, our families will never live on the same continent. It might never feel “right.”
Rami once told me that he always thought of home as a moving place, or rather a relationship or connection- that if we were together we could always be home. Like that Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros song that says “Home is wherever I’m with you.”
Home is where we find comfort, support, familiarity. Where we run when we’re afraid. Where we find peace and rest. Where we know ourselves. Home is found both by choice and by accident. It is both what we’ve created and been invited into.
I suppose home then for me is decidedly not a physical place but one’s residence inside a series of relationships throughout life, and the pieces of one another we both find and reflect inside that communion.