Long ago has the flight been booked and prezzies bought, only the luggage is left to get ready. But I delay packing because I do not really want to leave. I don’t want to leave from here where I live, where I am at home at present.
Although my journey brings me to the place, where I’m at home as well: to my homeland. There, where dear people are desperately waiting for me. There, where I know nature and landscape, where I am acquainted with the daily routine and procedures. And there as well, where my personal belongings are: furniture, photo albums, pictures, books, household stuff, winter clothes and lots of memories.
I’m not sure what to pack exactly, although I know exactly what climate will be there. Days before my departure I am tensed up and give testy replies to all kind of questions: How long do you stay? What are you doing there? Why do you go there? When do you come back? Will you come back for sure?
I suffer from bellyache. I’m nervous. I have to say farewell to the place where I live. Still can’t feel any joy at all about going “there”. Have to twist off the water, cut off the current and close the windows well. A last checking glance goes through the rooms: will everything be the same when I come back?
The drive to the airport is short, waiting for the take-off all the longer. While the airplane is climbing into the blue sky, I am looking down through the bubble window on the desert, on the uncoordinated accumulation of houses with swimming pools, fairy tale hotel resorts at the dark blue sea and the separated two-lane highways. The view provokes questions: what am I doing there? Why do I live there? What is it that makes me stay in this inhospitable, unpleasant landscape with people that belong to a completely different culture, religion and language? I get teary-eyed because nevertheless there is so much that locks me into my adopted country that is so different. It has won a piece of my heart – or should better say: I have conquered it piece after piece, accepted and become fond of it.
A flight of four and half hours and a train journey later, my temper is well balanced. The grief over the departure is being taken over by the joy of going “there”.
At home – this term has many meanings – the pleasure of the reunion is tremendous and again eyes get teary. The first couple of days serve acclimatisation and assimilation, there is so much to tell each other, then days full of activity follow and one notices that everything is as it has always been. Almost, at least: here and there is one building more or one less, has a place been embellished or the street system has been changed. The children have grown; grey hairs and wrinkles appear more numerous. All over, everything remains as it is. And very gently emerges – how strange – the drive for returning to the place which is also home.
Yet, a look into the eyes of the beloved ones provokes questions: How can you do this to them? How can you let them alone again for such a long time, those who love you and miss you? It’s a bitter taste, the lump in my throat enables me to breathe freely, and the heart is heavy…
Yet, they as well lead their own lives, pursue their own goals, carry into effect their own dreams and confront their own problems. Regardless an agonizing uncertainty remains in the heart – will we see each other again? Will they stay well? Saying farewell is hard every time although it has become routine and has been experienced many times. Thanks to internet the distances become shorter we hear us and communicate regularly – what a relief!
Time passes slowly first and I ask myself what I should do here all the time. Unfortunately, return flights have to be booked long in advance. However, suddenly, everything goes too fast: I would still have wanted or should have done or had to do this, those or that… And I suffer from the same uneven temper as before my departure. At least during the flight over the Alps, I seriously question myself, why I leave this marvellous landscape again…. Why do I exchange stability, cleanliness and system, state of law, human rights and the well-known for instability, chaos, corruption, oppression and strangeness? Yet, as soon as the plane has landed and the salty desert wind reaches my nostrils, I rejoice: I’m back home again. Different, but also at home.
At home and at home
„I’m at home in two places“, says a friend when discussing this issue. She belongs to here and there, feels at ease in both places. Another friend tells me that before leaving, “she has built very close to the water”, meaning that tears come down easily for three or four weeks. This is the period she needs to settle down again.
I settle down faster. In the same way as I put off preparing my luggage, I also put off unpacking. It tortures me, I weep, I grief and ask myself why I am doing this to myself. Yet, as soon as the washing machine runs and I get ready to do some shopping so that I can have a Muesli for breakfast and internet access is activated, I feel home again – although a grain of sorrow always lingers around.
Many of my acquaintances consider their life abroad as their home – and nevertheless miss their original home country and go to see it whenever it is possible, minimum once a year.
No-one can share being torn within as long as he or she has not experienced it himself or herself. Life is not easier and nevertheless one stays. Everyone has its very personal reason to stay; for some it will unquestionably always be like this and for some it remains for some years only. Then they return to where they originally come from – and don’t match completely anymore. Sometime me too, I will return… certainly in order to go elsewhere again. Just torn within.