Returning to Your Homeland

         I am embarking on a several week trip to America.  It’s my first time going to the states since I moved to Spain, and probably the longest period I haven’t travelled anywhere since the pandemic.  Six months.  I can’t help but wonder, where is home?

         This summer marks ten years that I have lived outside of America, via the United Kingdom, France, and now Spain.  A new friend I met in Europe reminded me that “you are not American, you are a world citizen.”  At first, I wanted to disagree with him.  My upbringing was in America, I have an American accent, my family is there, I own a home there.  Of course I am American, a multiracial American.  But as I got on the plane in Lisbon today (my layover from Malaga), I am surrounded by American accents.  It’s awkward.  I feel I don’t fit in.  Do these people understand me?  Were they just on holiday, taking a dream vacation?  Or  are they like me just visiting America too?  This is my life.  Staff members and passport control are asking how long I have been in Europe.  I respond by pulling out my visa.  Perhaps I am a global citizen.  

         I realize maybe we don’t have to choose.  We are not one or the other.  We can be all.  My friend recently bought a home in Michigan.  We are from the Midwest, and I asked her will she give up her home in New York and totally move to this new home in Michigan.  She doesn’t know.   She too, also feels both are home: East Coast and the Midwest.  You don’t have to choose one or the other.  There is reality you can be both.  It reminds me of my racial identity.  Years ago, when growing up and taking standardized tests, I had to choose my race when filling out the form. I informed the teacher, I wasn’t just one answer.  But there was little cultural sensitivity at the time and in small time Ohio.  She forced me to choose one.  Do I choose how others define me?  Do I change the response each time, letting each parent be represented?  Do I opt out and not answer?  Why must we conform?  

         After ten years of living overseas, and for ten years prior to that living in various parts of America, I realize all parts are me.  An Ohio Cali Hawaiian Philly New York American citizen.  That is okay.  Do not allow others to define you. You have a choice in this.  I am returning to the country I was born in, but now I realize it’s part of me.  Not all of me.