When I was younger, this question was easy for me. Where was home? Home was in Colombia and the United States was simply the placed where I lived. As I got older, the question became more important but the answer became less clear. I was born in Colombia and my family was in Colombia but my life was in the United States. When I go through immigration in Colombia they tell me “bienvenida a casa” but my family jokes with me and calls me “la gringa” (a term used to refer to people from the United States). When I go through immigration in the United States, the immigration official tells me “welcome home” but hands me my Colombian passport along with my US residency card.
It might seem like a simple and maybe even logical answer, but it took me a while to realize and even longer to accept that I wasn’t Colombian and I wasn’t American. I was both and at the same time neither. In Colombia I’m always “de visita” (visiting), and in the US I’m “the Hispanic girl,” “the Colombian,” and “probably missing home.” I also still get complimented on the fact I don’t have an accent in English, and I’m secretly still flattered every time someone mentions it.
Okay, but where am I going with this? What I mean to say is that realizing that I’m neither Colombian nor American but that I am something has made my experience here in France easier. You always hear things about “complete immersion” and “feeling like a local” and “how to not look like a tourist.” But honestly… like… why?? I don’t want to feel like a local all the time because that means that the sight of the Eiffel Tower wouldn’t amaze me every time I see it, I must be a tourist for this to happen. Granted, I also don’t always want to look like a tourist all the time because that means that the street vendors will always come after me with their furious French or broken English. Complete immersion isn’t mimicking a French person all the time and only drinking coffee and eating tartines for breakfast. Complete immersion is understanding something and deciding why you like, why you don’t mind it, or why you dislike it.
American breakfasts are the best things on this Earth, but nothing tops a Colombian bean casserole for lunch. I celebrate Christmas on December 24th at 12 at night or on December 25th at 12th in the morning, depends how you look at it. I also celebrate thanksgiving like a true American and eat pumpkin pie with turkey as if the end of the world was near.
So, what is a home? A home isn’t a place or people. Or better said, it isn’t just a place and/or people.
2. a moment in time where the people you are with willingly and happily share or sympathize with your emotions.
In that sense, how many homes do you have?