Do you feel at home?

This post is the #week1 #oprahblogchallenge from Jammie’s blog.

I have tried to let this title inspire me many times to write a post that I wouldn’t have to completely sensor and that would make sense. No wonder that when the answer to this question is no, there is not much more to say.

I want to shout that I don’t feel at home, that I don’t belong here, and that I hide myself, letting out the real me in small doses, like a wounded animal checking to see if it’s safe. I struggle – I struggle so badly when I don’t fit in and that is all I feel sometimes, that I don’t fit in. There are few moments of peace, of connection, when I forget about being an outsider, but no over-riding feeling of security.

The truth is I don’t know how to make a home. I feel at home when I am with my parents and when I am in Geneva. I let others define home for me and make me feel at home. Even my real home, I left it and went far away. I left for adventure, to be free to be myself, and to be more at home, but really I don’t know how to do that with myself. I know how to leave places that don’t feel like home. I know how to do it over and over again thinking that I will be better off where I am going but I am not. I know how to turn around and not look back and then cry when it’s all gone. I leave pieces of myself all over the place. I wind up lonely and disconnected wherever I go. When I return, I am again lonely and disconnected because what I left behind has moved on.

This is hard but I guess I need to make a home here. I am doubtful, I really don’t know if this is the right place. It doesn’t look right, it doesn’t smell right, and it doesn’t talk right, but I am learning to embrace imperfection.  I don’t have anyone like me to show how it’s done here. I don’t have a community, a group.

I have a few friends who I try to stitch together into a patchwork network, hoping they will catch me and not let me fall through the cracks. I also have HD and a cat and some plants. I have a mostly well-functioning body despite its serious limitations. There’s a lot I can do before I run out of steam. I have a kind face, a nice personality, and most people like talking to me. I have lived and loved expansively all over the world and I can try to live and love expansively and fully right here. I can build from the ground up.

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As Abbu drove me back from the airport, I noticed that the trees, the streets, everything looked smaller and more compact. It looked beautiful though and I had an urge to get out of the car and lie face flat on the ground hugging it. That’s how simple and uncomplicated my happiness was at the time. I remember when we first moved here and we would take the plane back to Pakistan. Getting off at Karachi airport and smelling the earth and the humid air would make me want to do the same thing. Get down on the dusty earth and hug it. I wouldn’t stop grinning the entire ride home as my khalo drove us back, the wind cool on my face in the night and blowing through my hair making it feel dirty and course; sitting in the front seat of a car in which I didn’t attach a seatbelt and rolled the windows down manually exerting pressure. Here I got into the passenger seat of the car I’ve been in many times but it felt different from the one I had in the States and I was surprised by its unfamiliarity. It was a nice Sunday morning and the sun was up, the mountains, the lake and the houses lining it were still there. I watched lazily, not grinning the entire way, but perfectly content, accepting the love for Switzerland. This must be the ultimate test for checking whether I love a place and call it home. If I come back to it after a long time and feel like hugging the dirt, it’s love.