Over the past year there have been many words that have been redefined in my life, but none more than the two words, home and alone.
I have always had a complex relationship with the word home. I think mostly because I have mainly thought of home as a place. If we are talking about the “place” home, then where is mine? Is it the place I was born, Mexico City? Is it the place I was raised, Orlando? Is it the place I defined myself, Miami? Is it where I became whole, Mysore? Or is it where I live, Kofu?
I have always been adaptable, and I can feel at home anywhere in the world. It is funny how fast some places feel like home, and how sometimes some places never quite feel right. I find myself using the term home less and less to refer to a place. As, what this last year has taught me is that it really isn’t the place that matters the most. This is not what makes a place home. What makes a place home is the people.
When you chose to live a more nomadic life, I think it is paramount that home is NOT a place. What anchors our souls are the people we share ourselves with wholeheartedly. Defining home in those terms, I have had two homes in my life and they are complete opposites. But both homes I have left selfishly in order to grow, not really wanting to leave either of them. Knowing that the suffering would eventually make me stronger and get me closer to being the person I know myself to be. And this kind of suffering can only be done alone, which brings me to the second part.
Being alone is not something new to me. As an only child, I have spent most of my life alone. But in the past year, alone has become defined not as physically being the only person in the room but by a much stronger isolation. Many of us have felt that feeling of being alone despite being in a crowd full of people. That has essentially been magnified for me.
I get asked if I feel lonely being alone in a foreign country. The answer of course is yes, but not in the ways you would expect. Being alone in my house is probably when I feel the least lonely. I don’t mind the physical isolation or the lack of contact with people regularly. What makes me feel the most alone is the complete lack of certain understandings, of having my thought patterns and cultural identity be totally different from my surroundings and having no way to express myself in those terms. In short, it is the lack of being able to truly be genuine that makes me feel alone.
Japan has a very beautiful culture which I have admired for the majority of my life. That being said, culture is not a black and white subject. There are negative side effects to such beauty. The two that I face daily, and have effectively worn me down are homogenization and saving face. These two traits are praised greatly in Japanese culture and they go against everything I strive to be. If I give in I feel incredibly alone, and if I fight against it I feel even more alone. It is a battle that I am finding myself giving up on, that I will eventually just choose to ignore until the time comes that I leave Japan. My only fear is that I won’t have enough fire left inside of me to be authentically me when this is all said and done. And if I can’t be myself, than I am truly alone.
There are challenges at every point in our lives. There is never a time where it is all said and done. Not even when we die, I think. I am learning more and more that I have nothing figured out, and have stopped trying to figure everything out. For me, home simply is where your heart is and being alone is when you don’t know where your heart is.