It’s not as glamours as it sounds; moving around, travelling and living in different countries. I lived in Australia for four years, returning ‘home’ to Fiji multiple times a year. Each time I returned ‘home’ the country, people and my family became stranger and stranger to me. And I to them, I suppose. Fiji was very firmly rooted in my being as ‘home’ but people grew up while I was away. My friends’ changed, new groups formed and I was not part of the process, and I certainly wasn’t part of what resulted. While I maintained my ‘home’ and my roots in my life, regardless of where I was, there was no mechanism to ensure that home remembered me. It is here that the reality of expatriate lives lie. It demonstrates the importance of embracing your new environment and welcoming the unfamiliar geography. Regardless of whether I spend eight months in a new place, or four years, I open myself up to the area, and eagerly wait for the new environment to open itself up to me.Like a romantic relationship, I don’t force my courtship with the new place. I let it envelope me in it’s orbit, this happens slowly, over a period of time, and simultaneously I leave the orbit of my ‘home’. The only difference is this ‘new’ place might be the third or fourth in a string of ‘new’ places but ‘home’ – I’ve been circling out of that orbit for a while. It’s taken me years to realise this – that even though home hasn’t changed in my heart, it has changed in reality, and it’s not entirely clear if there’s a space for me in it any more. Perhaps one day it will allow me into its orbit again, until then, like any ‘new’ place, I’m getting reacquainted, we’re courting each other again.
As I step out of the air plane, I close my eyes, take a deep breath…exhale…and say, “Hi Fiji, I’m Vanisha, maybe we can be friends again.”
Where is home for you? Is it the place you were born, somewhere you lived for a while or a place in your head and heart – perhaps one you haven’t yet visited?