Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Home - Musings from a "Scatterling"

"Home is where the heart is."  That's what the old adage says.  Lately, I don't know.  A heart has so many rooms and places.  It is able to divide itself into different pieces.  It certainly is capable of loving multiple things and people all at the same time without diminishing the intensity of the affection for each one.  In my case, that would mean my home is scattered all over the place.  A bit of me in England, Stuttgart, California, various places in South Africa and Tennessee.  This is what I was pondering while I travelled with my family to South Africa, to celebrate Christmas with loved ones there.

South Africa is the place of my birth.  She bore witness to my growing up.  Provided the soil into which tender roots first found their place.  She provided context for my life's journey and story;  the perspective that causes me to see the world through "African Eyes."  No matter how far we journeyed or roamed, whenever our aircraft would point it's nose onto "final approach" at Johannesburg, my soul would sigh and my heart would whisper, "home ...".  I would feel my context return.  No longer did I feel like a fish out of water - gasping for air and robbed of the color that made me, me.  For whatever time I had, I would relish not having to explain things like "Eish!", "Ag, lekker man!" and "How wena!".  I was back in a place were I was understood.  Where the idiosyncrasies of culture and people, made perfect sense to me.  It was with great anticipation that I looked forward to that sense of coming back to myself when I boarded the plane that would carry us "home."  Yet, when we started our decent and final approach into Johannesburg, there was more a sense of relief at being let off this noisy, infant-filled, bad-food-dispensing, flying tin can.  I put it down to the stress of traveling.  However, as our trip progressed, I realized more and more that something had changed.  While I was living my life, adjusting to my new surroundings and realities, the tendrils that had held my heart and soul so firmly in South Africa, had slowly been letting me go.  Unable to hold on to what I was, and still make sense of where I found myself now, I had let them gently slip away, till only a single tendril of Origin remained. For a while, I thought myself to be in a kind of "no-man's land".  Not possessing enough South African-ness to be truly South African,  and not yet American either.  My African perspective still frames my world, which can, sometimes, make integration into a new culture, challenging.  Maybe I'm just always going to be a mish-mash of different cultures.  Maybe that, in itself, creates something new.

I treasured every moment with every person on my trip.  For some reason, totally conscious that time is not promised to us and that "Tomorrow is another day," isn't necessarily true for everything.  Who knows when I'll be able to spend time with these special people again.  So I drank deep of their company.  Constantly aware of how I felt being with them.  Taking in every moment, conversation, setting.  Not wanting to engage in general conversation only, but attempting to really hear their hearts and feel the pulse of their souls.  Many a moment I would stop and marvel at how very blessed I am to have the friends and family I have.  These marvelous people that have all in some way or another, shaped me, challenged me, supported me, encouraged me.  All of them leaving little fingerprints on my heart and footprints on my soul.  Yet, when it came time to start thinking about coming back to Tennessee, I realized, for the first time, that it had become "home".  The realization didn't make the farewells any easier.  In fact, I found myself crying again thinking about my farewells to my parents, sisters and the their families.  Yet, in the comfort of my home, at the place that has become home, I wrap myself in warm memories and love and find solace for my aching heart, once more.

*The term "Scatterlings" was borrowed from a Johnny Clegg song, "Scatterlings of Africa".  I found the lyrics quite poignant and applicable to most emigrant/immigrant's experiences.

My Rock and Roots

Me and Patricia

My Second Family

My Inspiration :)

The Keeper of My Secrets :)

Lara and I - A friend indeed! :D

Wes, Anth and I - The one who reminds me who I am!

My cousins, sister and brother-in-law.  Without which there is no party!

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