A multimedia musing*
Over the past year, I have often considered the concept of home and, more specifically, whether I think I have one or ever will have one. I’ve asked several of my friends about what makes them feel at home and what that feeling even is. I’ve received varying answers having to do with people, places, traditions, and even smells. However, when I personally consider the idea of home, I keep returning to the inclination that I don’t think I have one, or that a home is even possible. Home, to me, is a place where every part of me feels 100% comfortable and welcome. Perhaps this definition is overreaching, but it’s the only one that makes intrinsic sense to me, and as I get to know myself and the world more, I simply don’t think that this type of home is feasible for me, or even desirable.
Before I go any further, I’d like to stop at this point for a disclaimer: this is not a sob story! Home is a concept that many of us have been acquainted with since before we can remember; it is often taken for granted or considered inherent. The stories we hear about “homelessness” are often correlated with a sense of loss or deep lacking, so much so that we use the word “homeless” to describe people who lack the basic human necessity of shelter. On the contrary, my musings on the idea of home have been fueled by my exploration of and increasing familiarity with my multiple identities and what they mean to me, as well as my growing sense of adventure.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with maps and globes; every time I see one I stop to look around the world. For a very long time, and from a very young age, my eyes would always go first to Nigeria, then the USA, then casually peruse the rest of the world. I’m not sure what this sequence signifies. Growing up, Nigeria was a place I seldom visited but that I frequently heard referred to as “back home,” the USA on the other hand was the only country I’d ever lived in until the age of 19. There was a point in time where I might have considered both home, but as I grow to know myself and these countries more, that idea seems more and more absurd.
Now when I look at a globe or map, I see things very differently: I see cultures I want to experience, languages I want to learn, and foods I want to taste. I think about how different aspects of the places I want to visit and live will feel familiar, while others will challenge me and make me uncomfortable. When I imagine my life going forward, I envision many partial homes, so to speak. Places that will foster growth in certain aspects of my life, but that I will move on from as I recognize the need to nourish other parts of myself and my identity.
About a year ago, when I first started intentionally pondering the idea of home, I don’t think I would have been happy with the conclusion I’ve come to: that home is overrated because where is the fun or the growth in that?! I was craving the hallmark home of extravagant holiday traditions and top secret family recipes that is nowhere near a reflection of my lived experience. That being said, as I shed myself of these expectations, I’m overcome with excitement and anticipation for the experiences that await me, and the locales I will come to know. So, in the spirit of writer Taiye Selasi, rather than searching for a home, I look forward to all the places where I will become a local.
*Today’s post is a multimedia musing, as it was inspired not by one book, but by a number of media. I highly recommend taking time to explore each of them:
- The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect on America eds. Nikesh Shukla & Chineme Suleyman
- Don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I’m a local by Taiye Selasi
- The power of diversity within yourself by Rebeca Hwang
- Would we be ex-pats or immigrants? On leaving the US and “living abroad” StumbleWell Podcast
p.s. Nwanyị Akwụkwọ will be on hiatus for the month of January, and will be back the first Sunday of February.