“Ladies and gentlemen, as we start our descent, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position … blah blah … seat belt … blah blah … turn the damn ipads off! … Thank you.” … or something like that, meant the captain on my flight back to London.
I am on my way back home … home?.
I have spent part of the holidays at my parents’ home, the house where I grew up. I like my old room, with my creaky old bed, that belonged to my mum during her teenage years. I like the greenness that pours in through the windows, and I love the warmth that I feel anywhere in that house.
Outside that house though, things feel foreign every time I go back.
I moved abroad many years ago, and selfishly, the whole country decided to move on and continue with life … They did not care about my little need of keeping some things the same. New restaurants replaced my old “burger joints”, new developments popped up out of nowhere, people dress different and have worries and concerns different to what I remembered.
How could they do this to me?
Looking through the windows I can see a clear, bright, beautiful day, glowing on what looks like a thick blanket of cotton wool. 10 minutes before landing, the plane goes through that blanket, revealing a dark grey, very damp landscape.
I love the dark green fields surrounding London, the soil is so wet it looks black, you can almost feel the smell of clear rain. It is going to be cold, windy and grim; part of my body cringes … and the other part relaxes and feels at home.
Where is home? where is MY home?
I know the whole “home is where your heart is” concept … but I am wondering about it in a more mundane way.
Where will I grow old? well, older?, Is this it, am I going to be a London pensioner? Is this the land where I will be laid to rest?
The thought causes a bit of anxiety.
I came to London to study and give myself a chance of trusting my heart. Because of work, I got used to moving places quite often, for years I moved towns, and countries, with little trouble. My study coursework would last 2 yrs, so I guessed that was my time frame before being ready to jump to a new adventure.
To, once again, confirm that planning too ahead is futile in my case, I stayed and planted my roots here.
One of hubby’s friend, also an expat, is having problems with his little son at school. They have been very keen on keeping him on an all-Russian environment at home, so he does not lose his heritage. But the little boy has not been able to connect with the rest of the class, his teacher defined it as “a total lack of awareness on all things British”.
I guess it is a trial and error thing, trying to raise children as part of the community while keeping foreign heritage present. I am raising a little Londoner, and I am committed to make him feel the British citizen he is without losing some of my traditions. I’ll learn to make sausage and mash and to deal with rhubarb, although I must say I already make a killer shepherd’s pie.
I think for now, I have those bases covered. But what about me? Is it here where I’ll stay to miss him when he decides to move abroad to chase his dreams?
My old country is not there anymore; London feels temporary, but I have been here for ages, so how really temporary is it? All of my friends are expats, in fact I am surrounded by expats: co-workers, neighbors, they are everywhere.
When I take Llollo to the common to play, I see how almost every family is bilingual, the least you hear from parents and children is English. French, Spanish, Italian and the odd Japanese, every time we go. Where are all the British families?
I have tried to join the community and become more involved with British people without success. I am likable really, very funny, but maybe I have been trying too hard.
I have no plan of action, I am feeling without roots and don’t know what to do about it.
Maybe I am going through an early mid-life crisis … should I get a Porsche? a motorcycle? a new haircut?