Just about recently, a regional business associate whom I had the honour of getting holed-up temporarily with in a meeting room for a whole straight week (weekends included) and whom I get to work closely with while we worked on new business project, posed me a question. He asked, “So. Where is home for you, Ann?”
It was an innocent question. A genuine question out of interest, and something that should not have been too difficult to answer. But, for a few seconds, I went silent.
My mind was forming word clouds, but my voice could not receive any signals of speech from my brains. I had only managed a stuttered response of only “Uhmmms” and “Emms”.
Suddenly, I felt lost. I struggled for words to define where home for me really is.
He looked at me a little funny. I thought he looked amused and, when I finally said, “You know what, I don’t know!”, he chuckled at my reaction.
Until that day, I have never really thought of that question any more purposefully than thinking about taking a crap after lunch. Until that day, I never thought finding an answer to where home is for me would be quite a difficult question to answer.
Being born and bred in Singapore for my whole life though, calling Singapore my home would be a natural thing to do. My family is there, my best friends are there and it was where I spent a good deal of my growing up years. But the reality now is that because I have been away for so long, with no assets to my name or a base I could feel where we as a family belong, I don’t and I can’t feel that Singapore is really home-home.
Is Bangkok home? I would say yes in its natural state of being by the sheer virtue of having been based here, but yet…no. Friends come and go, we have no other family members that are close to us and we do not have any roots to feel naturally rooted in the country we live in. While I do consider Bangkok as my adopted home, it is not home-home in the sense of how I define what home is. It still feels foreign and I cannot stake any claim to it. I don’t feel like we belong here.
My husband’s home in Holland is not something I can call home either. While it feels like home based on marriage proxies, it isn’t a place where I was born or bred. Apart from several weeks of vacation a year, bunking in with my in-laws, heck! I have hardly ever lived there for extended period of time to call Holland my home. Like Bangkok, I don’t have any roots in Holland. For the kids though, there seems to be some sense of affinity to the place and personally for me, it is not a place I have come to mind so much.
A friend of mine used to say that home is where the family can be together, not constrained by place. While true to a degree and true to the cliché of “home is where the heart is”, home has a whole different meaning and definition for me. It is not only about family togetherness, it is also about having a deeper sense of affinity to a place, having a house that you are able to own and a feeling much more rooted in. A sense of belonging. A sense of ownership. A sense of purpose. A place to settle so our kids would have the same feeling of belonging when they grow up. A place they could always go back to where genuine and life-long friendships are forged.
It isn’t temporary; it would have to be a permanent base.
Right now I feel like a nomad. I am in no man’s land.
What about you? Where is home? And how do you define home?