“Don’t you ever miss home?” an old friend asked me on Facebook a few days ago. She was referring to Sardinia, the Italian island where I was born and lived until the age of 17. More specifically, she was referring to Nuoro, the “city” so small it is barely a city at all – more of a town, really – where we all lived, went to school, met in the evening to walk up and down the Corso Garibaldi, the main street, and then stop at the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, the square where we all went to play as kids, because our parents would take us back to where they used to hang out with their friends; the square where we also, as teens, started hanging out with our friends.
My friend still leaves there, cannot bear the thought of leaving. So it’s it strange to her that I have been away for 15 years, that I have lived in several other places, that I have created a family for myself and even then I didn’t go back, not for longer than a 2-week summer vacation… she cannot imagine how any of my trips and moves might change my feelings about the place where I was born, where I grew up, where I still have friends – though can you really call a friend someone you haven’t been in touch with for many years? Someone with whom you haven’t shared the important moments in your life, like your wedding, the birth of your children? Hmmm. Maybe.
She never considered that perhaps it never felt like home, in the first place.
Of course she wasn’t the first to ask that question – I have been asked the same thing many times, by relatives, friends old and new, and more recently by a few bloggers. Then the question was raised on Twitter Moms: “What is home?” and I thought perhaps it’s time to answer it – not that I have all the answers, mind you, but I might just have this one.
Since leaving my hometown I have lived in Milan, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Zurich and now the NYC suburbs. When I lived there, every one of those places felt like home to me. I think the fact that I had decided to be there made it home. The exception was Copenhagen, where I never felt at home; and now that I think about it, that was the only place I hadn’t really chosen to be – I was transferred for work.
Copenhagen was too cold and humid, and it seemed to me that there were rivers of beer flowing on any given evening. But it’s a beautiful city, and I probably would have enjoyed it more, had I just decided to be there. In fact, it makes me think that maybe we should take a trip to Copenhagen, to give my memories a positive spin
On the other hand, who could feel completely at home in Denmark, after living in Los Angeles for 3 1/2 years? With the sun, and the palm trees, and the hills, and Universal Studios? But really, the focus was on the sun and the palm trees. I love the sun, I love warm weather. I also love palm trees, though I have to admit that they kind of bugged me around the Holidays. It’s just unnatural to have Christmas decorations on a palm tree.
LA was so much fun. I loved living there. Not even the earthquakes killed my buzz, though talk of The Big One did freak me out a bit. LA is special to me: that’s where I met my husband, that’s where we got married, and that’s where my dream to become a translator came true. Would I go back to live there? Probably not. Turns out I’m much more of a homebody. After kids, I turned into one of those cliché parents who prefer living in the suburbs. Never far from the city, but never stuck in it, either. Right now it’s Westchester, the NYC suburbs.
In a few short months it will be Zurich, again.
Will it feel like home? That depends from how much I’ll want to be there. Because you may live far from many things, but if you have the things or people you care about most, if you are somewhere you want to be, if you’ve decided to be there, wherever that is… that’s home.
Globetrottng in Heels: Mom. Wife. Accessory Addict. Chocoholic. Unlikely Housewife. Expat. Stranger in a strange land? Maybe. But sometimes "home" is where your heels are.