“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both”
Thus begins Robert Frost’s famous poem “The Road Not Taken.”
Back in June, Juli Townsend wrote a poignant entry at her blog, Transition to Home, about the loved ones that we leave behind and, eventually, aren’t there to return to. During the time she was away, she was heartbroken by the deaths of her dogs, her friends, and her sister. I encourage you to read her moving piece.
Since I’ve been in Australia, I’ve missed transitions – the events that all we expats miss, namely birthdays. I’ve been fortunate enough that I haven’t missed anyone’s wedding, death, or other major life event, but I am missing a major transition right now. I’m processing my feelings over it, thinking about how it effects my status in Australia, and what I think about when I think “home”.
When I was very young, so young I don’t even remember how young, my father bought a piece of property in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. It is two buildings with six apartments in total. In #1, I grew up with my parents, my sister, lots of birds, sometimes hamsters and turtles, occasionally a dog, and lots of cats. When my sister got married, she and her husband moved into #2 and, later as two became five, into #6.
Nothing lasts forever, as we all know. I grew up, went to college, came back, and then, years later, left for Australia. After 46 years of a bumpy marriage loaded with reunions and separations, my parents officially divorced last Friday, the 13th of September. My nieces and nephew didn’t stay little and my sister’s relationship with our father became strained. Today I learned, she and her husband have found a new place to live. My father talks of selling the property.
A common theme among expats is the concept of home. When does our adopted country become home? For a long time, I referred to Miami as home. I still do and, when I catch myself, I stop and refer to it simply as Miami. Although Melbourne doesn’t feel like home yet, Miami stopped feeling like home some time ago, but home still felt like home. That is, my parent’s property with the kitchen I’ve eaten thousands of meals at, the bedroom where my sister and I slept, where my cat now happily sleeps. Pretty soon, that will be gone. When there’s no home to return to, will that make Melbourne feel more like home? Or will that just leave me feeling rootless?
It’s normal, I know. People get divorced and they move and they sell homes and they die and all kinds of things happen. I guess it’s just the not being there part that makes it all so much harder. And there’s no telling when I’ll be able to travel to the USA again. Until my application for residency is lodged and I receive a decision, I’ve been advised by my migration agent to stay in the country. When, oh when, will some brilliant, science fiction and video game influenced scientist invent teleportation?