Monday, 16 October 2006

What is home?

I know some people out there will sympathize with this thought: is it possible to ever go back home?

Of course we can all physically return to the place we consider home, but what I mean is, there are so many other things that make a place “home”, not just the physical, and often these things are so transitory that they aren’t there ever anymore. But the people that stayed behind, as it were, evolved slowly with these changes so they don’t notice anymore – but those of us that didn’t participate in these changes will of course notice and of course not like them. Because that means it isn’t “home” anymore.

For example, I’ve been living in the UK nearly 10 years and all those things that one does as an adult (bank accounts, mortgages, home maintenance, etc) I’ve only done in the UK. I don't know how any of these things work back in Mexico. For instance, when I go back it always strikes me that people don’t have access to online banking, yet it’s something I just couldn’t live without, and it’s fairly common here in the UK. But of course my friends just don’t know what they’re missing as they’re doing what they’ve always done.

Also, when I go home I find the city has grown immensely and in ways that I don’t always like. A lot of the main roads have changed so much that I find it difficult to get around – something that makes me feel more like a tourist than a local and it makes me sad. I used to love driving around the city, now it almost scares me because I get lost so easily. I of course don’t watch any of the TV shows over there, nor do I listen to the same music, so conversations about pop culture don’t go very far. Half the newspaper doesn’t make sense to me because they talk about issues I don’t know or people I’ve never heard of.

I always look forward to going home because I can see my friends. But can I? Before I left, most of us had only just started working or were still in college so of course we had lots of free time. Now, they all work so hard and leave the office so late that it is almost impossible to organize anything except on weekends.

One of my favorite pastimes back home used to be clothes shopping. But now, when I go home, I don’t like any of the clothes – my style has changed and I find that I love the clothes I can buy here in the UK. Besides, the climates are so different, that I really shouldn’t buy clothes outside of the UK because I’ll never use them! It’s hard to find good winter coats in Mexico, just as it’s hard to buy thin summer dresses in the UK (especially this time of year).

I can’t even buy scrapbooking supplies because they are practically non-existent in Mexico!

So when I go home, all I do is eat. That is one thing that hasn’t changed much – the food. So I spend two weeks eating and trying to figure out what the newspaper is talking about, which means that I come back fatter and frustrated. Going home is really not possible for me – home doesn’t exist physically for me anymore. So when I yearn of “home” I’m not even sure why I bother because I can never go back.

I’m sure that if someday I left the UK the same would happen: I would miss lots of things that I can get here that I can’t elsewhere. I'd miss my online banking, my Smart car, my 6 weeks vacation entitlement per year. I am caught between two countries and I’m fairly sure that I would never be totally happy in either. They are so different and that is probably the main issue – I can’t compare. I will never totally settle in the UK because I’m always thinking of leaving, yet I know that if I left to go back to Mexico I wouldn’t settle either because I’d be thinking of how things are different in the UK. I’m neither here nor there (incidentally the title of a great book!) and for some reason this is bothering me today.

Maybe it’s the weather or the weekend spent with the in-laws, but I’m in a weird mood today. I wish I could pack up and leave the UK but, at the same time, have no idea where I’d go because I can no longer call anyplace “home”. So where do I go when I feel like I want to go home? I don’t know.

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