Home: the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.Oxford Languages
To an expat, the word “home” takes on new meaning. People often ask, “Where do call home?”
That’s a good question. Where is our home? Is it the US? Is it Bahrain? Is it Hong Kong?
Jim and I discussed this several months ago. I said, “I don’t know if we really have one place to call home.”
Before we moved overseas, we sold our house in Minnesota. We literally did not have a home in the States. Half of our older son’s schooling has been completed overseas. Half of our younger son’s life has been lived overseas. Where is home for them?
When each school year ends, we talk about “going home” in reference to traveling back to Minnesota for our break. But, we also talked about “getting back home” to Bahrain as the summer ended. Now, we’ve just returned “home” to Hong Kong (well, technically, we aren’t home yet – we are stuck in a hotel room for quarantine – but that’s a story for a different blog post).
Week 2 of our summer in the US was especially focused on home. I spent the week in my hometown, Duluth, while Jim and the boys went to his hometown, Dickinson. In Dickinson, time was spent with Grampie and Uncle Long Beard. In Duluth, time was spent sorting through baggage, physical and emotional.
In 2020, my Mom died suddenly in her home. Normally, I would be in the States for the summer. In 2020, due to COVID, I was not. I couldn’t return home to help my siblings or be at my Mom’s funeral. I was devastated. It was a trying year, much of which I spent in a fog of guilt and grief.
Going to my childhood home was healing. I was able to spend time in reflection as I sifted though piles upon piles of… stuff [keeping it PG here]. I found crafts my Mom was working on, homemade Christmas ornaments from my childhood, photos, cards and notes she had written over the years. There were also hundreds of things that left me wondering, “Mom, what the f…udge? [still PG] Why did you keep this???” I reflected on our relationship. I felt her presence. It was cathartic.
When I went to Duluth, my goal was to help my sister and brother clear out my Mom’s house. Being a hoarder, her house was a mess (understatement of the year?). I definitely fretted about it. I wasn’t interested in the house beyond getting any items my siblings wanted out of it so we could then sell it “as is.” But as I processed the piles and my grief, I found myself becoming more and more connected to my hometown and my childhood home.
Just before we left the US, we found buyers for my Mom’s house.
Jim and I will become the owners and begin demolition and remodeling over the next year. *Does anyone have any tips for managing such a project from overseas???* 😬
I guess that old saying is wrong… you can go home again. And now we will have one more place to call home.