Thursday, December 3, 2015

Helmets and Homes

I left the helmet in the hall, put my toddler to bed with extra careful kisses. Then I opened a message to my husband. I wanted to text, "I'm done here. Let's move back home."

But I couldn't. Because we are home. And whatever the USA or Poland or other countries used to be to us, they're not home now.

Some expats have a backup plan. "If this doesn't work out, we'll move back to where we came from." "It's just a 1-2 year contract, so we'll rent out our house until we return."

But what about the rest of us? The ones who left it all behind? Who integrated so well no one knows they're foreign? Who gave up citizenship? Who had kids or a spouse who have never known any other life?

What about us?

What if we don't have a backup plan for when everything goes wrong and we want to leave? What if we don't have a community somewhere who misses us and hopes we'll come back soon?

Where we live is home, not wherever we came from. Where we live is home, and the people around us are our countrymates. We don't have the luxury of resenting their culture, because it is our culture. We can't hide behind stereotypes and rude comments about them because we would be attacking us. Our passports don't protect us, but they don't exclude us. We get the inside jokes that newcomers miss; we pay the taxes, we belong to the traditions. We own the good and the bad, the hard and the easy.

This morning my one year old was wiggling in his bike seat; he managed to knock the whole bike over and bruise his head (and scare his mother). At that moment, I wanted to hate this biking culture and this busy city. I wanted to hate the uneven cobblestone streets and the narrow roads.

But I couldn't. This has become my culture, my city. My streets and roads. All I could do was buy Pippin a helmet and promise myself I would teach him not to wiggle in his seat anymore. And instead of texting that I wanted to go home, I texted my husband a picture of the little guy with his new 'hat'. Because this is home, bumps and bruises and all.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Wat heb je dit mooi beschreven.
      Hopelijk zijn Pippin zijn tranen weer gedroogd.

    2. Wat heb je dit mooi beschreven.
      Hopelijk zijn Pippin zijn tranen weer gedroogd.

  2. We are only visiting on earth for a short while, so we are "all" living in a foreign land. Although I enjoy my earthly home, family and friends, I can't wait to go to my real home! We all deal with this "foreign culture", some days it is just more apparent!

  3. Helmets are helpful. Also, and I feel like somehow this connects but I'm not sure why, I got told by a friend this week that I wasn't the typical military wife. Something about her not being able to imagine me with an American flag pin on my lapel. It is possible to be of but still other.