Thursday, July 10, 2014

What is "Home"?

We have one week left in Tallinn.

That we could be leaving this place for good (not counting planned visits back) in just seven days is beyond surreal.

When I talk to my non-Foreign Service friends, they usually ask me when I am coming home. (My FS friens tend not to phrase it that way...it is usually, when do you leave post? when do you get to DC? when are you back in the states?) Coming home isn't what this feels like.

For me, home is mostly where my wife and our pets are. But you, or at least I, do tend to "nest" in a particular place.

We are leaving here to live in a state we have never lived in, in a house we own but have never set foot in. Neither of us has family there, nor really any friends there yet (except our current DCM, who I have come to consider a friend, but though her house is only about a mile from there, she won't be back until a year after we have left for Kosovo).

So I don't know that I can call that home, at least not yet.

South Carolina has always been home for me, but as more and more states move towards recognizing our marriage and yet South Carolina still does not, it feels less and less like home. Our place in Virginia, which we lived in during our four years back in D.C., felt like home. But Virginia too treats us like legal strangers, plus we have renters we have never met living there. It not longer feels like home.

So while America is home with a capital H, home right now and for the last four years has been Tallinn. It is where my wife and pets are, yes, and also where we come home to from work each night. It is where we sit at the table together every evening to eat dinner together and discuss our days. It is where we can laugh at each other singing too loudly in the shower (or my wife singing too loudly on her treadmill, the music from her iphone playing only in her ears!). It is where our cats play chase up and down our long, hardwood floor hallway, skidding into the walls as they try to take the corner. It is where our books are, our art is. Pictures of our families.

Tallinn is home.

And when we leave, I will be home sick. Home sick for Tallinn.

I know, or at least hope, that our new place will become home. That we will make memories grilling out on the deck we are planning to build, sitting on the porch swing we are buying or the hammock we are getting. Playing with the cats on the screened porch or with the dog in the first yard she will have had since we joined the Foreign Service.

But we aren't there yet.

A week from today, we won't be going home.

We will be leaving it.

1 comment:

Robyn McCutcheon said...

I cried when I left Bucharest a year ago, and if anyone were to ask me today where I felt I was truly "home," my answer would still be Bucharest.

A year ago I dreaded the prospect of spending a year in DC. To my own surprise, however, I have come to embrace the DC area again. In a way, I have discovered it for the first time despite having lived here for 25 years straight -- (yes, feel free to interpret "straight" in multiple contexts) -- in a previous career. I can't believe I am now a month away from packing out. I will shed some tears here as well.

Perhaps that is a trait we all share in the FS, the ability to make anyplace we live and work a true home. All we need are friends and those we love.

Wishing you fair wind and a feeling of home wherever you go,
Robyn