The title of a rather cheesy song by a Swedish girl called Emilia that was a big hit somewhere in the late nineties. More than ten years down the line it still pops up in my head every now and again. In spite of being a big girl these days, it still is a big, big world too. Which I find hugely fascinating yet intimidating at occassions...

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

A Place To Call Home

For as long I’ve known, I’ve been a bit of a vagabond. Not in the sense of a tramp; I like to have a roof above my head and preferably a nice one if I can help it! Don’t call me spoiled, but I do appreciate some comfort. Like a soft warm bed, a good shower and some personal space. A place like that can be found anywhere, at least that’s what I like to think. In my own home, I have created it for myself. When away it doesn’t seem to take much effort either.

Nevertheless there’s more than meets the eye. A variety of countries I visited gave me a sense of belonging soon after I set foot on their soil. Like I could live there, or I would want to! Or at least that I wanted to return, perhaps time and time again… Egypt was – and perhaps is – such a place. First time I visited I was quite sure it wouldn’t be long till my next visit. That was indeed the case: it took less than 3 months. In fact, I did go back a couple of times within less than a year and ended up moving there by the end of it. Call it Kismet, but casually I had applied for a job in Cairo and before I knew it, it was handed to me on a silver plate..  

Moving to a country that is so fundamentally different to the one where you’re from can’t be easy, yet I had that sense of belonging. It could take me off guard at the strangest moments. One of my favourite was when driving back home from work on that awful Ring Road. We would get stuck in traffic on an almost daily basis, which would allow me with plenty of time to look around and soak in everything I saw. Rural migrants risking their lives trying to cross over as if they were still back home, unfinished buildings by the roadside (because living next to a highway is posh!), bilingual signs with funny spelling ‘mistakes’ in English, a thick layer of dust everywhere and palm trees. Palm trees! It would never fail to hit me with a small, sharp pang. Oh my god, I’m living in a country with palm trees!! It would take me home with a sense of gratitude.

 Yet I left again. Home is more than being contented with the place you are living in.  It is also the people and what it is you do there. Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans, so after a small detour I found myself back in the country that I had so eagerly left a few years before that. Just to make myself clear: the place I didn’t want to live in anymore. I vowed it would only be for a short while, I was now too much of a cosmopolitan to get stuck there! But once more life played a trick on me and before long I had to acknowledge this was going to be where I was going to spend many years to come. It didn’t take long before I could accept my fate. This was my old home, where I grew up and spent the vast majority of my life. And last but not least: the people that I had loved for such a long time were close to me when I needed them most.

The other day I was struck with that sense of belonging once again. Oddly enough, I was in the region where I was born and raised. At the tender age of eighteen, I had pretty much ran away, out into the world. I have always loved its flatness, its emptiness with only distant rows of trees and scattered farms for variation. Even the greyness of the water and the sky would put my mind at ease, bringing me back to the days where I had just left and still felt the urge to visit on a regular basis.

Last time around something upset me. Driving around with my beloved I enjoyed pointing out all of these places from a more and more distant past. I was entertaining myself with the thought how I had escaped the ugliness of all the cheap modern buildings. A lot of distinct land marks had disappeared over time. That’s when it hit me: the place from my childhood is slowly fading away. This place looks nothing like home anymore..

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  1. Hi Bianca, Great stuff you're writing about. I love your latest post about belonging and home. Thanks for sharing your experiences so openly. I completely relate to your experiences with instantly feeling a sense of belonging in various places. Where are you living right now? Kerrin

  2. The Hague. How about you?
    Thanks for the compliment! I've been thinking a lot about the purpose of the blogging and since part of it is to find direction I set that as a goal. Glad to hear it's working. :-)

  3. I found your website from the live your legend start a blog challenge. I love to travel and the experiences I get every time I leave home. My goal is to join the Traveler's Century Club which is open to anyone that has visited 100 countries. I am on 66. You have to check out my blog I started at

    1. You see, this is the kind of stuff I love about blogging: it makes your world just a bit bigger. :-) Happy to hear about the Traveler's Century Club; I'm nowhere near 100 since I've always been the type of person who is enclined to return to the countries she liked. Will pass it on to my buddy who travels for work.
      Will make sure to check out your blog.