Welcome to July’s #TrailingSpouseStories. This month we talk and reflect about the idea of HOME – what it means to us, where it is and how we make our nomadic homes feel more like it.
“Don’t you ever miss home?” this question I get often from family and friends in the Philippines and beyond. In which the question does not beg an answer, but rather more questions.
Where is home now?
At the moment, if a home were a place, I would say home is Texas.
Same time, two years past, we came to the USA half-empty. We emptied our Dubai studio flat, our closets, and cupboards. We filled five boxes of our stuff – handcrafted ceramic Tunisian dinnerware, clothes scoured from years of Dubai sales, books, magazines, kitchen appliances, Starbucks city mug collection, our first television set – to be sent back to the Philippines. We couldn’t bring all of us to the US. We simply couldn’t afford it. It was okay. It’s one of those things that we had to do because we had to do it. We’ve had practice the first time anyway, leaving the Philippines for Dubai.
We emptied our stuff, but our hearts were filled with memories, people, still bleeding wounds and scars.
That’s the thing about moving countries, each one is a rebirth. But instead of being released into the unknown spotless, completely vulnerable; we are reborn, carrying our past lives, homes, and identities. Home is woven into every fiber of our being.
I bring the Philippines with me – my maroon colored passport, my equally Filipino husband, my passion for white rice, pork adobo, lechon, calamansi, mangga at bagoong, my Catholic upbringing and values, my forbearance for government ineptitude and inefficiencies, my nonchalance for first world “flash floods”, my dislike for the rays of the sun, heat and humidity, my dash of sassiness to turn tragedies into moments of comedic gold.
I bring Dubai with me – my constant craving for crispy falafel with creamy hummus, Yemeni mandi, cafeteria biryani, freshly baked ball bread that deflates as it cools, my gained respect for Islam, my consciousness of the many other cultures not my own, my stratospheric standard of larger-than-life grandeur, excess and shopping malls, my awareness of perspectives on my roots, and my heightened dislike for heat and humidity.
The word “Home” to a trailing spouse like me is really like building a home. It is constantly under construction, a work in progress. Each country, city or town of residence represents a room to be filled with ideas, memories, achievements, heartaches and, of course, stuff.
Our Texas “room” is now run over by The Husband’s Starbucks city mug collection and my magnet collection on the refrigerator, representing cities, states that we’ve visited, Dallas Mavericks souvenirs, American foodstuff like cans of corned beef, Spam and chocolates, books and magazines on American history, cookery and travel, my kitchen tools, and, yes, more importantly, an adorable dog. Our Texas based hearts are slowly being filled with memories and experiences of driving through the wide open spaces, especially the oh so wide roads, enjoying the relaxed pace of being in the “province” (It definitely is probinsya compared to New York City or LA), laughing at and with insider jokes of the spunky yet conservative attitudes of the locals, exploring the vastness of Texas cuisine – barbecue, Tex-Mex, kolaches, deep fried everything , and other immigrant food – Vietnamese. Southern American, Eastern European and more.
Will Texas be our forever home? I don’t know; I can’t say. But when the times comes again, we let go of the stuff, carry what was home in our hearts and move forward.
What is home, really?
Moving from country to country, I’ve realized that home is not a place, but a state of mind and heart. It can be pieces of you as the Philippines, Dubai, and Texas are parts of me today.
So do I miss home, the Philippines? Yes, I do miss my family, my friends and parts of the life that was there. But I’m embarrassed to say that a lot of times I don’t. Because instead of turning outwards, looking towards places and times of the past, I look inwards and realize that my home is really right in here and with me all along.
Check out other #TrailingSpouseStories in this month’s blog crawl:
Alana of Runaway Bunny in Seoul talks about how pictures and books might make a house feel homey but it’s the people you fill it with that makes it a home in Home is Where the Heart is (And my heart’s at the dinner table)
Didi of D for Delicious says moving from place to place has helped her realize that home is not a place in #TrailingSpouseStories: There is no place called home
Tala of Tala Ocampo has come around after living in one city in one country all her life, the last five years in almost 3 countries as a trailing spouse has made Tala realize that home is not a place but a state and a feeling in The Never Ending Pursuit of Home