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.