Mid-Week Observations: Where is Home?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Home has been a strange concept for me since moving to New York, and perhaps even since I started thinking about my own cultural identity. I feel as if I am only renting in this life - both the physical space that I inhabit and the thought processes that I use to define my life and personality. Going to Bangladesh this year presents another sort of home. An ancestral home, a place that I have relatives that are not in my nuclear family. And in some ways that strengthens my sense of home and in some ways it fragments it.
Let's start with the first one.
Having more homes in my life will be a good thing, I believe. It will bring me away from my thoughts that there are only 3 of us - my father, my mother and myself - and widen the bonds between all of us. Bangladesh is also an adventure, a faraway place that I don't remember very well and haven't had much connection with since a very young age. These things all foster my sense of "home" and may allow me to find it.
But, as for the second issue, it also introduces a completely new place that is hard to reach and also disparate from the two homes that I have struggled to forge in the States. I live in New York, but I am from Seattle and the Seattlite in me wants to go home while the New Yorker in me wants to stay and appreciate the beauty of this big dirty city that I love. Seattle is comfortable and it has all the old friends; New York is hard to put up with at times, but has been a big factor in some of the most fulfilling moments of my life. Bangladesh... where will that fit in?
Having multiple homes is something that a lot of people struggle with - for me it's a struggle of personal identity, but for others that I know it's more about the literal space. Living in China and living in New York, for instance. All international college students and people who hail from faraway states can echo my sentiments. Who are the people that you want to know forever? Who are the people that you want to have around you? What kind of house/apartment are you going to live in wherever you choose to be? These are the questions that plague us and excite us at the same time.
So, when I think about my own situation, I think about the negatives a lot. The fragmentation of my culture from my location, the separation of my family members across oceans and large tracts of land. But there is always a silver lining, a bright patch in the cloud of negativity. It is the new connection and safety net that I will garner from having people I know I can trust around the world. And if that bright patch shines enough, it might just blot out all the sadness of being isolated here on my own.

You may also be interested in reading my post The South Asian Question or my opinion piece Discrimination and Mixed Metaphors.