In his essay Home-Coming, E. B. White wrote “familiarity is the thing – the sense of belonging”. Reading this, I reflected for some time about my current state of belongingness. Where do I belong?
For quite some time now, I have been a wanderer. Couple of years here, a few months there. The life of a traveler enriched me in many ways; it showed me the world, opened my eyes, allowed me to meet people of all colors and made me realize that all humans are essentially the same. They love and hate the same way, they cry and smile for the same reasons and, strangely enough, they joke and make fun of each other in similar fashion. This realization is particularly significant for me, someone who lived in an extremely homogeneous country for her whole life.
And I made friends, some remarkable ones. I can easily brag to my friends and relatives back home that I have a friend in almost any part of the world. A few of them also became my close friends, with whom I can open my heart and pick up the conversation even if we meet after a very long time. I owe to my traveler’s life for knowing all these wonderful people.
But the same traveler’s life inflicted me, again and again, with the pain of leaving the very same friends I made and the uncomfortable goodbyes with the fake consolation of meeting again. Over the years, I kind of became inured of such infliction. In any case, I am not a person who gets too attached to any person or a thing. I can’t really think of a time when I cried because of an imminent parting. But still today, it does leave a mark in my mind, like the mark left on the grass by the brick that was always there.
I heard people saying that you can get used to anything. But I guess there is a difference between getting used to and being comfortable with something. I still don’t know where I will be next month or next year or the next decade. Yes I got used to the prospective lack of stability in my life, but I don’t think I am comfortable with it.
I have this romantic notion of living in a town where I would live forever. I would take a little stroll every evening and meet the same people and pass by the same tea stall. I know very well even if I lived in my hometown, this would not be the case. Today, all my friends are in different parts of the world. And more importantly, people I knew changed a great deal. Me too. So it cannot be the same.
Yet the familiarity of belonging, as White said, is extremely seductive to me. Every time I have got to leave, I pack up like a pro. As you can imagine, I have become quite a good packer by now. But something deep inside me keeps telling “don’t go, don’t go.”