Sometimes I find myself quite the snob, expecting others to automatically understand that when I speak of home, ergo when the word escapes my tongue and seeps into the conversations, I am not speaking about this land that is vast, beautiful, and free. I am instead speaking of a pair of irregularly shaped eyes, huddled between neighboring countries in Southeast Asia. It is young, modest, and in the brink of a revolution.
I am not speaking about the proximity within the radius of a mile, or end-to-end between two coasts, even if it’s true that I’ve given a fraction of my heart away to a city tucked comfortably in the east coast. When the word home lilt from my tongue and reverberates within my soul, I speak of one that is 8, 613 miles away with a time zone difference of a whopping fifteen hours ahead from California.
I do not want the tsk tsk tsk; I don’t need the empathy of originating from a place that is less glamorous than its fellow counterparts, that recently received global attention for all the wrong reasons and in light of a tragedy. She is not a tragedy, this place that I recognize as home. I don’t need the bizarre facial expressions as one pretends to know where it is on the world map, or offhanded commentaries like, “That’s exotic!” I am not asking for a pat on the back, a kind but unnecessary attempt to try to relate to homesickness. I am not looking for sympathy, the kind that sounds like, “It must be hard for you, being so far away from home and family. You’re so brave and strong.”
I am not an object on display that is exotic, and neither is she. I am not brave and strong for choosing to seek intangibles elsewhere, forging my exit the moment the opportunity arose while others, by circumstances or choice, stayed and are left to fend for themselves. I am not the heroine who deserves the thunderous applause for choosing to return home.
The truth is, I continue to live in between two distinct time zones. Five years and opposite coasts later, it is no different. When I am on one side of the world, the other ceases to exist. I am in the moment, basking and living in the present, yet the yearning for a place that offers none of these does not easily cease. Sometimes I am hard pressed, full of stubbornness and empty pride, refusing to forget. For a long time I was neither here, nor there. While I have since understood that home is not a place or a scene, rather what your heart speaks to and where your soul returns to, the concept isn’t as easily grasped.
Sometimes I wonder how others can speak so lightly of theirs, how they could wax poetic notions about a place they claim is home so casually, from the comfort of an adopted home which they’ve recognized is the place they will live until death do them part? How do they reconcile the contradiction within their souls?
Over the years, the concept of home changes even within my viewpoint. It is a matrix of layered complexities. It does not weave happiness, as if it reflexively rids the ebbs of sadness by merely existing. Home is a matrix within the recesses of the mind. Home is a heartbreak, sometimes it is even a tragedy.
Today I woke up on a beautiful Sunday, on this side of the world with sunny and clear blue skies, in a studio apartment filled with spaces that belong to me – my necessities are whole, or they seem like so, and yet the first thought that came to mind was: I miss you.
I missed you today.