The more life experience I gain, the more I feel that one’s concept of ‘home’ is highly subjective. It is my belief that if you foster even one important relationship in a new place for a sustained period of time, you have considerably upped the chances of making this place your new ‘home’. I say this with conviction only now, after my second big move in my life.
I moved across the world, from India to Canada, at the age of 10. At that time in my life I only cared about the friends I was leaving behind and the familiarity of my culture. I’d never seen snow in my life nor attended a school without uniforms. I spoke perfect English (most schools are English-medium, contrary to popular belief) but I didn’t fit in due to my foreign accent. In short, I was a fish out of water, and I hated it. I constantly cried to my parents about going back ‘home’ and for four years after we migrated to Canada, I mentally lived in India, refusing to accept Canada as my new home.
But life changes. People move on. My friends, who would write to me religiously during those four years, stopped writing letters as their increasing school workload and other activities took up all of their free time. I didn’t even realize when Canada became my ‘home’ but it did, and I would defend it fiercely if the situation arose. I remember getting into a heated argument in an elevator in NYC, when an American decided to poke fun at Canadians, with the classic ‘aboot’ jokes from ‘How I Met Your Mother’ (which by the way, are SO last century). I remember throwing in his face the then recent Canada-USA Olympic mens ice hockey gold medal game in which Canada emerged a champion thanks to the OT goal by Crosby, and I remember feeling pretty darn proud about it too.
My second move was more recent, two and a half years ago, to Tampa, Florida. I remember that same gut wrenching feeling when I said good-bye to my family and friends as I set off to do my masters degree in Tampa. This time I spent a year pining for home and mentally living in Canada, following my friends’ lives, the Canadian current events, and missing Tim Hortons coffee (which I still miss, admittedly). As I developed those important relationships however, my entire outlook began to change, as expected. I caught the NFL fever, fiercely rooting for the Bucs, Lightning and Rays. I boasted about our beautiful weather and gorgeous beaches (they really are gorgeous), and even our amazing cloud cover to anyone who’d listen. I remember how upset my mother would get when I’d visit Canada and accidentally talk about going back ‘home’, by which I was of course, referring to Tampa. I had not let the fact that my immediate family still lived in Canada stop me from thinking of Tampa as my ‘home’.
I think that was the thing that surprised me most. I am a loyal person in general. A loyal friend, lover, sister, daughter, granddaughter. But somehow I had managed to change loyalties when it came to my ‘home’. And that greatly surprised me. I mean, no one but new friends, whom I’ve made in the past two and half years live in Tampa. Yet I consider this place my ‘home’ now. Go figure.
And now it is time for yet another move. I already feel anxious thinking about leaving this place. I will miss the people, the climate, the beaches, the positive energy that seems ever-present (I’m guessing that would be because of the weather!), and so many other things. I will be starting all over again in a completely new place, with new rules, a new climate, new people, and a new lifestyle. I know I’ve done this before so I know I’m up to the challenge. My only question is: how long before I make this place my new ‘home’?