Is home where you put your head to sleep?
I am a stealer.
Yet, I do not steal gold.
I steal: homes my father rents,
With every relocation.
Where are you my home?
Are you in the depths of the green palm trees in Iraq?
Are you my school that burned down?
Or the banana tree in my garden-
I would watch grow,
But never eat from.
Are you on my pint-sized balcony in Geneva?
Or in the plate of Mansaf, cooked by your second mom?
Or in the place, you were born,
but seldom lived?
My birthplace: where I am instantly repulsed by the smell of pollution.
I run to the sounds of cars honking.
I run to the collective smell of war and poverty, I have not experienced.
To every memory, I created, in countries soon gone.
I leave before they burn.
My home is in the palms of a gold chain that holds my name.
Looking for home
Home is a notion that always intrigued me. Like the hidden door to Narnia, it always seems close.
Sometimes, even tangible. I can touch it. But it never feels right.
See, growing up I lived in 5 different countries. Starting my journey of life in Lebanon.
Then moving to Iraq, Yemen, Switzerland, and Jordan. Each of these places stole a part of my heart.
Yet, none of these places held it for long- entirely. There is always some competition from other places.
As soon as I hit the four-year mark in a country, I start getting bored. Finding faults where there are not necessarily any.
My quest to find home does not stop in the gold chain that holds my name.
I continue to look for it in the abandoned spaces, where squatters sleep.
I am a voyeur, stalking houses and abandoned buildings.
Roaming the streets looking for a purpose.
The roads, schools, restaurants and some houses are closed.
Here- are the hidden gems though.
The broken houses and homes.
Some built. Others abandoned or destroyed.
Each structure has its own identity.
The old buildings make me imagine little kids running in the streets. For some reason I see a red-headed girl with a long French braid, running across the rubble.
Her father scolds her to be careful of the rocks and rubble. “Don’t get too close to the balcony”, he squeals.
In other homes, I imagine the worst. A fight had to happen. That is why they ran away. The glass everywhere – it just has to be that.
Empty houses are the most interesting because you can create your own story there.
It is like drafting a book or tv show- however, the blueprint is still there. Little revenants of what once was.
The old broken homes, remind me there is beauty in the past.
An unfinished and abandoned home reminds me to finish my task. At the very least to try. If I leave halfway- there is still beauty in starting.
Moreover, a home that is still being built- reminds me that progress takes time. Just breathe. Not everything has to happen overnight.
These were all once someone’s home. They can be yours too.
Conclusion: Why I am obsessed with home
Perhaps, a lot of my unyielding obsession with home and Peter Pan is the consequence of growing up as a “third culture kid”.
To clarify, third culture individuals are:
People who were raised in a culture other than their parents or the country of their origin.
Living in so many places left me confused, especially after returning ‘home’.
Often, finding myself not understanding things that are so intrinsically national.
Maybe, I will never understand what or where home is.
I started this post asking, is a home where we put our heads to sleep? I do not think so. Since you can sleep in hotel rooms.
Instead, I imagine home is a place where you feel comfortable and confident in your surroundings.
So much so that you start identifying with the space. It has to be more than a place to dwell.
Bleep. Still buffering. I am not there yet. And that’s ok.
Finally, I’ll keep looking.
P.S. stay on the lookout for more daily poems here.
Did you find ‘home’ yet?