It’s the age-old interrogative sentence that haunts all of at some point, no matter how physically far away we are from “home.” And where is home exactly?
Today in social studies, I warned my students that after the lesson they were going to want to leave America and travel the world for the rest of their lives. (Most of them are more or less convinced I am from Taiwan (like literally of Taiwan blood), and they were rather shocked when I explained that I actually had roots right here in Washington and am, in fact, FROM America.)
My lesson took them through a running tour of Taiwan, Mongolia, North Korea, & South Korea. I inspired them with time-lapse videos, geography videos, pictures, and horizon-broadening facts about each country. (I could tell the diversity of my presentation had everyone captivated; that’s a win in the teaching world!)
For me, this was actually the first time I had taught anyone about Taiwan. For years, I have been teaching people about America and the confusing and varying customs of the West and have even walked fellow-foreigners through the process of moving to Taiwan from their home country.
At first I was overwhelmed; where do I start, what do I say? But then the researcher mentality of an educator settled over me, and the lesson I gave my students made me crazy homesick. And happy at the same time.
It felt like every part of me was glowing with unexplainable feeling as I showed them my home city of Taipei, the forever-long changing of the guard at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, and the video of my dragon boat team’s championship race. My students were immediately enraptured by the beauty and all the people, their fascination being expressed through words like, “It’s pretty!” “Coool!” “I wanna move there!” “I wanna go visit you!”
Mission accomplished. The seed of world travel and exploration and expat living PLANTED.
I was simultaneously overjoyed to teach them about something so integral to my life and yet also so fiercely gripped with nostalgia.
And the whole thing had me thinking…
6 years ago, I was torn to be so far away from all the marriage, birth, and even death that my friends in the States were experiencing. I wanted to be with them still, but I knew I could only be in one place at a time and was learning to accept that.
Over 6 years down the road, I’m undergoing the same extent of emotion; but now all the friends and loved ones I so dearly miss are in Taiwan. I want to be with them, but I know I can only be in one place at at time and I am learning that it’s not easy to know where you’re supposed to be in life.
I could simplify this issue and say I have two homes now, but I’m no longer sure that’s entirely true, either.
Home….. bittersweet home.