Friday, September 26, 2008

A sense of home

I grew up in a wonderfully unusual manner which involved not only moving house and school, but also moving country every couple of years. This means that, while still at home, I lived in 4 countries (Zimbabwe, Spain, Argentina and South Africa), on 3 continents (Africa, Europe, South America) and went to 2 primary schools and 3 senior schools. Since leaving home I have lived in a further 3 countries (England, America and South Africa) once again on 3 different continents (I'll let you work that one out). No, we are not evading the long arm of the law or dodging taxes, my parents are teachers, well they were then, they are now much more than that, and we moved from international school to international school. Where am I going with this?

Ah yes.

I feel a little flighty. I can list the myriad advantages to living this kind of lifestyle, to being exposed first hand to the many and varied cultures, languages, viewpoints and cuisines, to having a narrow child's mind opened up to the wonders of the world, learning far more than school could ever teach, I could go on. What I don't seem to have is deep roots. I am still trying to decide if I mind this very much. The world is continually changing and therefore seems to me a great place to venture out into. What I want to know is whether or not I will ever really feel rooted in one place. Will my children have a base they call home, where they store their treasured memories until they have a home of their own? Is it important? Will 'home' be where ever we are or where ever they are? Home for me now is where I am with Sean, Shannon and Jordan. When I go to my parents (in which ever country they are at the time) the accessories are always the same. Those familiar things plus the presence of my Mum and Dad also feel like home. Perhaps 'home' is a state of mind?

I was chatting about this with a friend recently and this was the perspective I got: She is surrounded by 3 generations of her immediate family; parents, brother and sister, husband, her own children and her nephews. All in one province in South Africa. That is roots. She feels inclined to stay put. Our families, both mine and Sean's, are a little less sure footed than that - or perhaps more sure footed and therefore more likely to travel. We are strewn across the following countries:

Turkey - My Geriatric Gappers
Spain - Sean's parents
England - My sister, brother-in-law, niece, sister-in-law and nephew, uncles, aunts and cousins
Australia - My other sister plus various cousins
New Zealand - A cousin
The High Seas - Sean's aunt and uncle who are currently trying to decide where to settle
Zimbabwe - A multitude of aunts, uncles and cousins
South Africa - My brother-in-law, sister-in-law, 2 nieces a nephew, various aunts, uncles and cousins and, of course, my hubby, myself and 2 adorable children

This makes the world a fairly small place. We are mostly all in touch to one degree or another and so the distances between us blur a little. I do not feel inclined to stay put. There is the crime factor that sends me into a frenzy of Moving On, but that does slip to the back of my mind and I love my life. But I still don't feel rooted here.

I wonder if the next place will be the last stop? I wonder if Shannon and Jordan will feel inclined to travel the world as I have. I hope so. I hope they always come home and tell me about it afterward. Where ever that may be. After some consideration I think I like the big world to be a small place that I can wonder through without fearing it. But I will put down roots. Somewhere. Sometime.


tam said...

the black box sent me, the black box sent me!

The Good Woman said...

We move. A lot. And for us, the decision to leave SA was less about violence and more about economics. I haven't lived there for 7 years but its still home - roots, if you will. It's where I regroup. Where my decisions and opinions require the least explanation. But I still don't know when I'll live there again. And most of the time I don't think it matters.

I could go on but maybe I should just write my own post on my own blog rather than pilfering space on yours!

Mom de Plume said...

Glad you dropped in Tam

Hi Good Woman! I used to feel very much like that, especially living in England. My heart ached for Africa. I think in some ways it always will - but not for the Africa I am currently living in, for one that is peaceful and unified and where all the people want the best for everyone else!!! I may be asking too much. SA is a fair amount more violent now than it was even 4 years ago when we came back and I am not sure Zimbabwe is ready for me to resettle there either! Ah well, 'tis a small world, I will come and go as I please until I find the place I feel most comfortable in. I look forward to your post on this subject!!!

Dad Mzungu said...

In 1989, I took a 3-year contract in SA. Unfortunately, after 4 months, "they" moved the goalposts. Suddenly I was no longer needed and sent home to the UK. I was devastated and never really got over it - until I discovered Kenya.
Now, although still based in the UK, I travel out there whenever possible, each time working a bit closer to having a base there -not Nairobi, but in a provincial town in SW Kenya. If, no, when I settle there, I will probably be the only white man, but do I care? Not a bit of it!

Mom/Mum said...

Home is where the heart is eh? Just sometimes it takes some time to figure out where that heart belongs.
Great post.

Mom de Plume said...

DM, that's great that you have found the place you belong. I think that belonging is important whether it is to people or to a place!!!

Hi Mom/Mum Too true. My heart has always belonged to Africa but it also seems to have a wanderlust! Time will tell!

Sparx said...

I really empathise with this - although we only moved from Canada to England to Canada (and then I moved back to England) I do feel rootless. It's a weird one - I really wish for my son to have roots because I have always felt the lack of them. Your friend is lucky in many ways.

Mom de Plume said...

Yes Sparx, I think she is lucky in many ways! I also want roots for my children... just don't know where yet :)