After reviewing my previous post The place we call home, I felt somewhat unsettled and anxious. It read as if I was trying to convince myself that Paris was indeed my hometown. It reminded me of that weird feeling I had last time I was there: as I was getting off the metro ram it was as if I had never felt more disconnected in my life. It was strange as I can’t think of a more familiar location for Paris. And now I am left thinking, shouldn’t where my home is be nothing but obvious?I am not even sure how to define home anymore. Is it simply the place where we are born and raised that classifies as such?
I have lived in Paris for a total of ten months over the past eight years. I caught the traveling bug at the age of twenty and it took me eight years to get it out of my system (at least sufficiently for me to stay in one spot for more than a year). I do go back there sometimes, to visit friends and family. Nowhere near as much as I wish to though. But when I do, I am inevitably left with a certain feeling: that I am now a stranger everywhere I go.
This is the dark side of leaving, the one that no one wants to talk about: travelling for too long shapes you, in most cases into a positive and tolerant person, but it changes you nonetheless. You gradually become open-minded and sensitive to others. After a while, you no longer feel French, English or American let’s say, but like a Citizen of the World. Your looks change, your accent fades, your cultural background blends in with others so to become your own and uniquely odd identity. You stop referring to your country as much or comparing and rating everything to how it is done back home. You rarely get homesick and when you do, it is a sort of distant nostalgic memory that surface, one that you have difficulty connecting with. Social media stalking starts to become part of your routine, the only way to keep in touch with closed ones you tell yourself . It might well be so but what it certainly stirs are feelings of loneliness, isolating you even a little further. Looking at their pages, you are reminded of all the things you are missing on. Even a friend’s picture of a simple after work drink can affect you deeply. And finally you live on your life to make new connections here only to realize that they will never truly get you, understand you as people did over there.
If it sounds bad, that’s because it is. Thankfully, the wonders of travelling make up for this downside. I am sharing my thoughts here for us to never forget where our roots lie and to try as much as we can to water and nurture them. It is very easy to forget where we are from so let’s not. And for the issue of home, I’m just hoping that I haven’t found it yet. Will keep on looking anyway.