Home is where I am

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I’m back ‘home’ from an extended staycation overseas. I spent ‘the holidays’ with family in the USA, but of course I really missed family and friends from Ireland and Australia. I took much needed and appreciated downtime. Himself joined me – we spent our holiday time in Florida (almost Georgia), New York, and Dubai. New York is my #1 city, and they were my first footsteps into the Gulf. I often think I’m very lucky to have travelled as much as I have. I feel travelling is an intrinsic part of me; so I am always very, very grateful when I get to travel.

And, now I’m back ‘home’. I realised yesterday that emigration is a theme in several of my short stories – not having thought I wrote stories about emigration before. But, in at least five of the stories I’ve written the protagonist has emigrated or is about to emigrate. In one or two I explore their lives as immigrants. But, I don’t think I have one character who is a naturalised immigrant; neither am I.

Ruminating on concepts of place is very me – you can read more about that here if you like. I left ‘home’ to attend university in the UK and have lived in Wales, Norway, France (a summer), England, Northern Ireland, and Australia. I’ve spent extended staycations in the USA with family since I was a teenager when my older—and my only—sister emigrated. I spent a magical month in Japan in 2010. I’ve travelled across Russia, Mongolia and China on the Trans-Siberian. I’ve been to Iceland, Scotland, France, Spain, Germany, the Benelux, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Singapore and now the UAE. 2015 marks the beginning my fifth year in Australia; I don’t know if I even feel comfortable calling Ireland ‘home’ to myself in my head anymore.

I haven’t lived in Ireland permanently since last century. I left in 2000. Although I did spend a few extended stints back there before I left again in 2010. How loaded that last sentence reads to me – ‘stints’, ‘there’, ‘left’. Using those words referring to Ireland hurts. I’m not being melodramatic — I physically wince when I read them back to myself. I think this is all slowly starting to show I’m coming to see myself as an immigrant, not simply an emigrant. That doesn’t happen when you ‘step off the boat’. At least, not for me. I arrived in Holyhead, Wales in September 2000; it’s nearly 15 years later I’m having this conversation with myself and you (thanks for reading). I am no longer an Irish person living abroad. I’m no longer an emigrant. I’m an immigrant.

Border control does not solely define us. Or me. I define me.

I am Irish. I am Australian (I have the papers!). I am an unnaturalized alien.

I ask you, dear reader, how is a person supposed to feel with a label such as that?

So, I’m home. I’ve come home? Well, The Canary Press was waiting for me (complete with appropriate illustration of a ‘GRRRRRRRRR invader’). I came home to it. I’m home.

My library of books from home finally completed their months long sea-voyage to Australia while I was overseas, they’ve spent some time in quarantine and are waiting to be relocated – home. (There’s 20-ish boxes.) I had felt for so very very long that I would feel at home here when my books arrived. But, I’ve come to realise these past few months that home is where I am; the words live with me.

5 thoughts on “Home is where I am

  1. If you chose to look at it like this, you could say that you’ve added yourself to the longstanding Irish tradition of ‘leaving’. It always makes me think of ‘Steal Away’ by the Fureys. But of course I also understand your insistence on feeling at home wherever that may be, and wherever feels more home-like. Perhaps you’re simply a citizen of the World now. What do you think?

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      • Yeah, ‘leaving’: a massive post-colonial hangover mixed with socio-economic factors. One could say it’s very little like ‘leaving’ and a lot like being ‘pushed’. I, unlike the claims of the song’s characters, had a lot to stay for: my family, friends, career and love of home. There is always the push and the pull of it. The pull to stay and the push to leave. I was most certainly pushed, and that, dear Glen, is an entirely different story …

        I do consider myself a global citizen now; but I, also, already did when I was a child and had lived in a seaside village in North County Dublin my entire life. For me, it is a state of mind, an intrinsic state of being; not a stamp on a passport or a passport itself.

        How is it for you? What do you think and feel?

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  2. It’s a bit different for me, because I still live in the city of my birth. My family are all out-of-towners, and most of them are out of town (i.e. interstate.) Cultural similarities aside, moving from country Victoria to Perth is almost like emigrating. Which is what my parents did many years ago, and they’re still here.
    I’m actually in the process (slowly!) of writing something about all this now. Stay tuned!

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