It is a rainy September day and this inspires a heavy melancholy stemming from the days when left I home to return to class. The last sun rays lingering through golden leaves and the smell of autumn trigger an irrational homesickness.
In the past few weeks I have been working on a show called “Home Is Where…”, which used interviews with Third Culture Kids to explore the notion of belonging and well.. home. Third Culture Kids (TCKs) are those who spent a significant part of their developmental years outside their parents culture, creating their own hybrid culture. On paper, this would make me one. In practice, my parents have been the textbook examples of integration and I happily grew up in a small town in the Netherlands. Happiness is relative, there was definitely a subconscious sense of “Otherness” not to be explored until decades later: the main evidence was my restlessness, my need to leave home.
“Home Is Where…” is part of a bigger project, an online oral history library on SoundCloud and hearing the different testimonies on how TCKs struggle with the notion of Home, made me realise how lucky I am. I have always known where home was, even though returning forever would be Option Z.
Then #Brexit happened in June and (unrelated) my parents sold the house I grew up in.
As I drove away last July with the boy next to me, my sister in the back and a car full of childhood memories: it felt like an anti-climax. My parents waving goodbye on the driveway, with me desperately trying to avoid the kerb while reversing… My mind was on the road before I even turned the corner.
Back in London the realisation hit.
#Brexit is a complicated matter and to me it felt I became the Other. When the UK rejected to be part of the EU after a campaign built on xenophobia, I cried. There are many valid reasons to have voted Leave but the main narrative of the Leave campaign was so hateful, it coloured the result. For the first time in my 14 years on the island, Option Z suddenly moved up the Alphabet of choices. Simultaneously, the house that I see when speaking about Home will no longer be that. That what was once my nuclear family-of-four has levelled up into three couples. With their own lives and their own homes.
I wanted to hold on to a home where my friends are, where I drink in the same bar every time I return, but my friends are starting their own families and the bar changed ownership. I live out of suitcases and boxes, I don’t decorate where I sleep: always ready to move. Home was always somewhere else. Not yet here and now no longer there either.
The salvation to my lost soul is a homebody who fixes everything to his liking: modifying living rooms, bed rooms and car interiors within the limits of rental agreements and space. Wherever he is, he creates comfort and happiness.
Back in London the realisation hit: wherever he is, home is.