Home: a State of Mind

Eric, a 37 year old graphic designer from America, shares some reflections on the concept of home with us.

Usually people start conversations by introducing themselves and giving a few basic facts: what they do, how old are they, where they come from. This last part is the question I actually cannot answer… I’ll explain why and then you will also know why home is not a place, a location somewhere on earth, but a state of mind for me.

I’m an army brat and because of my father’s work, my family and I moved every few years. So, for example, although I was born in Washington D.C., I do not have a single memory from there. That is why I do not say that I am from D.C., as I do not feel at home there at all. We lived in a few states in the US, in Japan, Egypt, and France and usually we spent 3 to 6 years per place. I stopped moving with my family when I started college in Boston when I was 18.

After getting my Bachelor degree, I was offered the possibility to continue my Master studies in Sydney, and I jumped at the chance. I loved Australia – nowhere else do you have such close contact with nature! And in comparison with the States there is no pressure on career and money. I started a job as a graphic designer in Sydney after I got my Masters, but what surprised me was that after two-and-a-half years of working I started to think about moving more and more. Don’t get me wrong – I did like Sydney, I liked the people I met there, I loved my job, it was just that I was not used to spending more than four or five years in one place.

I chose to move to California because I had some friends from college there, who told me that I would easily find a good job in San Francisco as a graphic designer, plus the change of climate would not be too painful either! But life in the USA disappointed me because people were too focused on work and earning more money to buy a bigger house, a fancier car, etc. At least that was the case in my environment. My work there was challenging and I learned a lot, but after more or less five years I was ready to move on. I knew that I did not want to live in the USA and thought about trying out Europe this time.

It was around this time when I realized that I am extremely lucky to have a job that can be done just about everywhere, provided that there is an Internet connection (or maybe I subconsciously chose such a career – who knows?). I found a job and moved to Marseille, France, and it was here that I met my future wife. She lives in Munich and was spending her holidays in Marseille when I met her. In the beginning of our relationship, we divided our time between France and Germany, and spent hours online. As this was too chaotic and slightly stressful for us, I decided to move to Munich. I have been here for three years now, and we have brought a little son into the world. I am absolutely happy but I am beginning to wonder whether in few more years my instinctual need to move on to another place will arise, and if so, what we will do…

Now we come back to the main question: Where am I from? Where is my home? It’s definitely not my birth place, although it is indicated in my passport. Is it the place I spent the longest period of my life? Where my parents live? Honestly, the concept of home is so vague to me that I cannot and do not need to answer this question. I believe I have a slight resemblance to the character that George Clooney plays in Jason Reitman’s movie “Up in the air”. Today I would still not call Munich my home, but I would rather say that my home is where my family is. Now it is Germany, but only time will tell how long…

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

5 Responses to “Home: a State of Mind”

  1. Hi Eric, I pretty much understand what you mean…I was born in Colombia where I lived until I was 17…then I moved to London where I lived for 14 years, I have also spent some time in Cyprus and Texas USA…
    I believe I wouldn’t be stretching the truth if I was to say: “I consider myself a citizen of the world” and that would probably cover it as I am not sure what to call home anymore…maybe you can also start using that…

  2. I write this reply from my balcony in sunny Tallinn, Estonia. North East in the EU, just about 80km under Helsinki, Finland (across the gulf… another gulf, there are more). I’m Dutch by birth. Listening to Surinam music through my superfast wifi connection. My wife was born in Ukraine, my kids here in Estonia. They have Dutch passports, my wife Estonian. I consider myself European and after a few drinks, Cosmopolitan. At the moment I’m considering a job offer from a Belgian company, to work in Camerun (Africa). This morning I Skyped with my Indonesian business partner about new design for the products we produce and I sell to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Ukraine. I made an offer today for a large project in St. Petersburg, Russia. And my friend just agreed to a job in Curacao (Caribean), subsequently inviting me to visit asap. I see a Dutch friend, living in Brazil, is online (he’s in IT business).

    This is just a part of my day, my life. Where is my home? The place where I feel some acceptance, love hopefully. And this could, should be all over this tiny little blue globe.

  3. I can

  4. @ Fons, it sounds like you are a truly a cosmopolitan soul! It would be wonderful if everyone was as lucky as you in terms of internationality, I believe there would be much less problems in this world!
    Love and acceptance and a grain of comfort are what makes home what it is!
    Good luck with your future endeavors and here’s to finding “home” in Cameroon!

    @ Jhonny: A “citizen of the world” is definitely the fitting phrase! After all, are we not all citizens of this world? After all, the world is our oyster, no?!

    Thanks to both of you for sharing your stories!
    Cheers, Valentina

  5. @ Bayta: Very wise words, indeed we are all strangers on this earth which, at the same time we are also citizens of! In my opinion, it is part of our purpose in life to experience and discover as much of this world as possible. Anyone who has the chance to see even just a little part of it and get a glimpse of all the different fascinating cultures out there is one lucky devil 😉 I think losing “home” in the classical sense is a small price to pay for finding “home” in the broader sense: where one feels at home, on earth, among people and places we love and that love us!

    Thanks for sharing your story with us and best of luck in settling down in Berlin!

    Cheers, Valentina

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