Who Says You Can’t Go Home…

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.

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Our family home by my sister’s Lomo

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.

What would you do in another life?

… I would live in a village.

I would be part of the community and not be annoyed that everyone knows each other. I would wave at people in recognition while walking down the street. I would drive a small car (stick, naturally) to do my weekly grocery shopping. Go into town and buy flowers and cards for friends and family on a whim. Then send them or even better drop the flowers off, just to say hello.

My home would have a huge kitchen and it would be lovely and organised. Ha that’s a lie, not even in another life. My home would be messy but in a charming and hygienic kind of way. Maybe there would be a guy, maybe there would be a baby.

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Maybe two, or four. Babies that is, not guys – unless they all turn out male. Hmpf.
Four girls would be a nightmare too, imagine cycles synchronising, so preferably a mix.
Maybe I should start with one and take it from there. I digress, in any case: the house won’t be organised.

Ooh maybe I would have a cafe, that would be fun.

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A coffee place with liquor license (what else would the bloody point of a bar?) It would a cosy arty little place where people could hang out and eat. Nice simple, enjoyable food and pretty desserts of course.

What else would there be?

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Back at the house, I’d have a garden with a lawn and a pond, and big trees for tree houses and swings. Maybe chickens.
It would be full of colourful flowers in spring, a big garden table for BBQs in summer. Autumn would be pretty and winters would have snow – always. Not the traffic stopping annoying kind of snow of course, just the idyllic pretty sort. At night the garden would light up with Christmas lights, that miraculously appear.

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I’d look at the garden from my desk, surrounded by bookshelves full of books and trinkets from travels. I would close the door, sip my tea, open my laptop and I would write.

There are two things that seem to remain in both my “other life” and my reality: I write and I am happy.

 

 

 

Ten reasons why moving back home is Option Z.

1. I had to make apple-pie to keep myself busy.  Eating is as much entertainment you can get. I would be the size of a house. Be it a very small one. Still, a house.

2. Being with my parents still evokes the child in me. My mother who does my dishes, two seconds after I put my plate aside to just get another cup of coffee. You get the picture. Sweet, for about 24hrs.

3. My room has a single bed. Hope would sink further below sea-level.

4. Small town politics- part 1 ” Have you heard that such and such has moved out from the family home. He lives on the camping right now.” No Way!” “And you know that she has been seeing X” ” X? From the family by the church? I always say hello to him.” etc. I don’t know these people. I don’t care.

5. There is no one who can cut my hair.

6. The way people can look at you. To be more specific, to the lady on the bicycle this afternoon: Looking me up and down like that, pulling that face really was unbecoming. (Unless that just was the way  your face sits naturally, in which case I apologise and commiserate.) I was just wearing a dress, with tights and boots in October and if you judge me for it being short you obviously aint seen nothing yet!

7. Small town politics -part 2. If I am friends with the family of Baker A, can I still shop with Baker B? Computer says No.

8. I have no car, I will go nowhere. Car is crucial for sanity.

9. My friends here, god love them, have settled. They have houses, they have mortgages, they play board games. Nights out need to be planned, weeks if not months ahead.

10. Because  I’m lucky enough that I can try all the other options first,  knowing I can always come back home.