January 10, 2015

Home is Where?

As I’m writing this I am currently in the air on my way back to Manila. (And as I'm publishing this it's 12:30 AM Sunday morning in Manila) It’s always a bittersweet journey, leaving the States and the family joy of the holidays for the normalcy of regular life again. On one hand, I’m sad that I have to say goodbye to my family, excluding Mom of course, and head back to the other side of the world for another five months, the side of the world that has school and the drama of high school no less. On the other hand, returning to Manila is a return to normal life, my own bed, a routine everyday with room left for adventure (and endless movie marathons) on the weekends. Not to mention Aggi, how I miss that little Shih Tzu. This leaves me in a constant state of bewilderment, this transition from the United States to the Philippines always without definition.
Where is home exactly? Is it Manila, the physical place I lie down at night and know where everything is and have friends that can actually come over and we can go out, or is it Virginia/OBX where my family is, where my best friend (who is family) is, where I’ve spent the majority of my life, where my childhood memories are. When I return to the States from Manila, I say “I’m going home.” But when I leave the States for Manila again I say “I’m coming home.” Which one is accurate? Can a person have two homes? Am I without a home without being homeless?
I like to say “airports are my home” when someone asks, it’s easier than trying to explain this magenta feeling and it’s partly true I guess-I wish airports were my home because airports are middle ground, you’re in-between your beginning and your destination—you’re on your way, but you’re not there yet. A lot of 3rd culture kids relate to that feeling of airports being home, but I’m not a 3rd culture kid. I’m just a girl experiencing her formative, and twilight, years of adolescence in Asia. So where is home? I used to think home was where all my family was. But now I’d like to think I have family on two continents—that doesn’t exactly narrow it down. 
The famous expression “blood is thicker than water” is actually quite misrepresented in today’s society; the original meaning held that the water referred to the breaking of the water when a mother went into labor (“My water just broke!”). The blood referred to those who used to prick their fingers and mix their blood together—making them family and part of each other forever. While we may not follow this primitive ritual anymore, or at least…not as much anymore, the saying remains thus: your biological family is great, but your true family consists of who you choose to have around you. This brings hope to everyone, someone like me who loves her biological family and my extended-family of friends or someone who doesn’t get along with their family and has made theirs entirely from the ground up.

I’m now beginning to understand that home shouldn’t be based on others, home is a feeling that comes entirely from within. This doesn’t mean that the feeling of belonging you get when you return to the place you spent your childhood or the place where your family always gathers is wrong, but it’s simply that: a place of belonging, you belong in a loving environment where you feel safe and warm. Home should be the same, you should feel loved and warm and comfortable there—regardless of who is there with you because if your happiness is always derived from others, you will never be happy.
You should really check out Brooke's blog about her solo travels here (xx)

As for me? I’m still in that perpetual in-between state, still looking for a home to call my own. For as much as I love my family, my family being the one I built—biological and platonic, I need to find my own home and I'm still searching. And that’s okay. Everyone has an in-between period like me, and it makes you stronger to go through it. It teaches you to appreciate your family and your friends and the wonderful family you have, but also to be happy without the crutch of others—something I’m still practicing myself. Because nobody likes to be alone, but the trick is to not feel lonely every time you’re alone.

So that’s where I am for now, perpetually in-between. A teenager is the most in-between of the ages, we’re in this figure-things-out stage, and it’s okay to call this place our home. For now anyway. 

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