What Is Home To An Expat?
I recently went to a wedding. It was a small, intimate affair for one of my partners oldest friends, and he was the best man. The bride looked stunning in her elegant lace gown and the groom looked very smart in his suit. But most of all they both looked thrilled to be married.
The intimate ceremony was very personal to them especially as they’d written their own vows. Sadly, with a toddler to entertain (the baby being cared for by his Aunt during the ceremony) I zoned in and out of their heartfelt vows. However one line from the bride really struck a chord with me. She said It doesn’t matter where I am, I feel at home when I’m with you’.
“I feel at home when I’m with you”
The bride is a Chinese expat living in New Zealand. Her words struck a chord because like her, I am far from the home I grew up in, yet I feel at home here with my partner Gav and our children, Archie and Tristan. Perhaps the fact we had just got keys to our first family home together affected my emotions, but I could feel them bubbling to the surface. I understood her sentiment completely.
Home as a place
We tend to think of home as a place, and perhaps it is. But that place is home for a reason. Do you think of home as the place you live? Or is it somewhere else?
The house I grew up in was always home, even once I’d moved out. I grew up there, spent the first 18 years of my life living there, and the house is filled with memories of my childhood. It used to be my home and I always feel safe, comfortable and happy there, but it is no longer my home.
Life has changed drastically since getting my New Zealand Partner Residency Visa. I now own a house in New Zealand with Gav. I’m excited to make into a home for my family; or at least what I perceive as a home. A place of comfort, safety, contentedness and where we can all be exactly who we are, without outside pressures or influences. I want to give my children my own version of the childhood home that shaped me.
Home as a Person?
Would my house be a home if I was living alone? I don’t know, but I doubt it. To me, home is where the heart is. A cliche for sure, but stop and think before you judge me.
My childhood house was home because its where the three most important people in my life lived, my parents and sister. Since having a family of my own they’ve had to share me with Archie, Tristan and Gav. My home now is where my boys are, because they hold my heart and I have such huge influence over their lives.
When I was pregnant with Tristan my midwife wisely told me ” you won’t love him (Archie) any less, your love just grows”. She was completely right. I don’t love my parents and sister any less because I now live on the other side of the world. But my priorities have changed. I am responsible for two little boys and raising them up to be the best they can be. Gav is my partner in doing just that. We have made a very difficult life choice to live here in New Zealand. But we chose it because we want to give our boys the happiest home, great opportunities and best lifestyle that we can.
To me, home can and does change. It’s where and with whom we are most comfortable, where we can be ourselves. To me, home is family and friends and happiness shared. Here, in New Zealand, with Gav and my children I am home.