I’ve never been able to visit my elementary schools or childhood home. If I wanted to, that would mean several plane tickets to go to Manila, Jakarta, and Singapore.
But now, in Korea, my dad was able to visit his elementary school and hometown. It was endearing to see him recount stories about that other elementary school that they used to fight with or the big soccer field where he used to play the tuba for the school band. He reminisced about how big he thought the elementary school was and laughed at how it looked different now that he was older.
Seeing my dad revisit his childhood home made me wish that I had one. When I’m asked where my hometown is, I usually say Chicago or Peoria, but I never lived in Chicago and I lived in Peoria for only five years. And five years is the longest I’ve ever lived in one place.
Not to say that I’m bitter for living in Asia. It was a blessed experience and shaped me into who I am today. But at the same time, I do wish that I had lived in one place to cultivate long-lasting relationships and watch a community grow.
For me, childhood memories are scattered across several countries and with different faces. My friendships lasted long enough to be comfortable but too short to last. Granted, Facebook and email has helped me keep in touch but there is always so much you can learn about someone in two to three years.
I’ll never be able to do what my dad can. I can’t go to one place to visit my elementary school(s) and house. In a way, for me home is never one place. Home is rather where I feel comfortable and safe. It’s where I know where things are, where I know the inhabitants (my family), and where I don’t have to worry.
So then, what will my home become as I go on my own? I suppose in university it’ll become my dorm…or will it? Will Montreal still be my home? In fact, just writing that a certain place is my home seems weird to me…