I’ve grown to know places like people. Should I be lucky to experience them during all four seasons, only then may I get a grasp on who they really are, and even then, they flourish and crumble over time. You shouldn’t rush claiming home, but you also can’t deny it. It molds you.
Bonds between humans and land grow increasingly complex as time passes. I spend my time evaluating where it is that I feel the most connected- as the daughter of an immigrant from a country I am blacklisted from, and as a descendant of enslaved people who were stolen from their homeland. Home comes into question when someone asks, “where are you from?” even when they really mean “why do you look like that?” I pause, and I am forced to flip through the mental rolodex of the 10 addresses that I’ve claimed in the last 4 years.
The news updates on my phone and the NPR that I listen to while working as a delivery driver tell me that my internal struggle with defining home is, for lack of a better term, a first world problem. From the Rohingya to the Kurds, there are people that have been fighting for their right to dwell for generations.
Nai Palm says that home is where your body is. My friend Suraiya said that home is where the bazaar is. She said that home is a feeling. I’m familiar with that feeling. I know it when I feel it, and I feel it most when I don’t.
Home is cinematic and poignant, but only when I am the utmost present. If not, it can completely wash over me, unnoticed. So, I’ve done my best to build a home. I’ve filled it with plants whose growth, I can only hope, is a testament to my own. Distance from it only means that I’ll come back with spoils from my adventures, new songs of old sorrows.
Home is neither here nor there. I’ve been home, but there are rooms in my house that I’ve never set foot in- only dreamed about. There are echoes of the oldest love that bounces off the walls and gets absorbed by rugs whose fibers have existed long before I have. Home nourishes me and I dearly hope home knows how thankful I am.
So for now, “I live on the South Side of Chicago.” Maybe after you’ve seen me through a few more seasons, you’ll figure out where I’m from, and where I call home- because I cannot stop thinking about home. I can’t stop talking about home.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES