Friday, November 11, 2011

Reflections on Place

Having moved recently to this new city, place has been on my mind lately. Actually, place is on my mind by default, because I am a person who does not have an obvious geographic home (which is also to say I don't have an obvious cultural home). I was born in California, but we moved to Japan when I was four. During our six years there, my identity was: American, gai-jin, foreigner. Then we moved back to California, and I found I was not a normal American. I certainly didn't fit in with the kids in my classes, some of whom were living in the same house they'd been born in, and who would still be in that house until they moved away for college. When I was fifteen, I spent five months in Nîmes, France, where I became, again, American, only to return to my high school where I knew I was not the same kind of American as the others. It wasn't until I moved across the country to Long Island for college that I came to call myself a Californian and to realize that, yes, California feels like home (Northern California, anyway). And now here I am, living in technically-New-Jersey,-practically-Manhattan, married to a Turkish man, and I a Californian who is simultaneously sort of Japanese and, deep in my blood, half Korean, while somewhere down in my genes I am German. Where is my place? What is my country?

This apartment, with all its quirks (the slanting walls, the mold in the bathroom, the exposed water-heater, the leaking furnace): this is home now, this is my place. Home is where my books are, home is where I cook, home is the place I have to clean, home is where I am the one who changes the sheets on the bed. Home is where O. is. Yes, this is my place.

But my place extends only as far as the front door. Maybe out onto the landing, on a good day. This city is not home, not mine. I still worry if I stand out on the streets. I am still busy watching the other people, wondering how I should dress, walk, move. Then the Spirit moves in me and I remember that it doesn't matter what those people think of me.

Still, I would like to know what impression I am emanating. I think home is the place where you don't have to wonder about that. You know already.

Will this place ever be home to me? I should give it time. It's only been three months. But we're only planning to stay here two years. Yes, we've planned to uproot ourselves again, soon, soon. Is it worthwhile? Is it right, to act as if this place is just a brief stop?

Every place is a brief stop. Home is not on this earth. Home is where my Father is, and I'll be there someday, regardless of how much I move around this continent, this planet, during my three score (or four or five score, God willing) sojourn here.

[Thoughts in this post catalyzed by this fine essay.]

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