Back in the 80s, I was a skinny teenager with long brown hair and oversized, rolled-up tees. Home was the only place I was born in, grew up in, and went back to everyday.
Then came the 90s and we moved to the other side of the Nile. It felt like my whole world as I knew it had ended; though it was just a few minutes’ drive away. I don’t remember that I liked the move that much. I thought I had lost my home, my friends. But in reality, all I lost was the rolled up tee.
But I do remember that a couple of years later, I slowly grew attached to my new hood and with all the confidence a twenty-year-old can master, I called it home. By then, I was wearing tight fitting tees and low rise pants. The hair was still the same.
Then I met my husband and decided to spend the next two decades at least, roaming the world with him. The prospect of living abroad seemed fascinating. When he proposed, the prospect turned into a much anticipated reality. Then we got married…and reality hit!
I had physically relocated with him to Indonesia but the rest of me stayed firmly rooted back home.
“Home is where we both decide to live for the moment.” He would try to convince me after every emotional meltdown. I still remember the sneers I gave back, the snappy comments. Home was exactly where I had left it, I would reply; thousands of miles and oceans away. It was where my friends and family were and life there was moving on… without me.
Then came the 00s and we moved to New York City. I was warned: you can never be neutral about the City. You will either love it or absolutely hate it.
It didn’t take long to fall in love…with New York.
I eagerly started to grow some roots and shoot them downwards to establish a solid foundation for my new-found home. The tees were out and camisoles took their place. Surprisingly the hair style survived yet another move.
I went to school for my graduate studies. I started a family and had two lovely boys. I made friends. This was home, I was sure. This was where my family was created. This was where true memories were made.
Then we moved to Jordan.
Now, if you’ve never been to Jordan, it would be hard for you to understand. It was the best place to raise a family, pursue a promising career and make some wonderful friends who, like me, brought along various parts of the world they lived in. I called it home. My kids did too. My husband was too wise to get attached.
We moved again.
“Home is where our family is,” I tell my kids now. They both shake their heads and give me the SAS…silent angry stare.
My 6-year-old refers to his future by saying: “When we’re done with NY… .” and My 4 year-old simply wants to go back in time. He’s still too young to understand the concept of a future. Let alone a future of homelessness.
So we have no real home. Every place we left behind has changed. People have moved on. We’re strangers when we go back. We’re strangers when we move forward.
I looked the word up in a dictionary hoping to find a definition for Home that would suit my lifestyle. A definition I could share with my boys to help them cope. There were at least ten options, none could define our lives.
So last night I looked at my son from the rear view mirror of my car, tucked my still-long brown hair under my ears and I answered his question.
We don’t really have a home the way your friends do. We are homeless people! We don’t need roots to survive. We’re campers and we’re explorers and if we spread a map on the wall and put photos of all the friends we make along the way, we will feel quite at home with our homelessness.