Ruth Behar: “Searching for Home”

Ruth-Behar-At-Home

Here is a brief excerpt from a marvelously evocative article by Ruth Behar (Aeon Magazine, 14 April 2014). In this article, the author ponders her fluid and complex connection to “place” and the meaning of “home.” Please read the complete article in the link below:

In the past 30 years, I have acquired many more things in the course of many more travels. From Cuba, my native land, where I have returned incessantly since the 1990s, I’ve carried art, sculpture, maracas, batádrums, and even sand from Varadero Beach, where my parents honeymooned. To this, add my vast collection of books in English and Spanish. And add the numerous pairs of high heels required to stroke my vanity. This frivolity is in balance with a desire to be the keeper of my intimate historical past. I am the person in the family who keeps the old photographs and expired passports, the dress my grandmother wore to her 50th wedding anniversary, the nightgowns my mother wore on her honeymoon. At once warehouse and museum, my house is sinking, like a boat, from so much weight.

I have surprised myself by ending up becoming more of a rooted creature than I ever imagined I’d be. I have held on to the same job, the same house, the same address, the same husband (I, who never expected to marry). I gave my son, my only child, who is now the age I was when I thought I was never going to settle down, the gift of an immense stability – firm and steady ground on which to stand.

But when I travel and a stranger asks if I’m from Michigan, I immediately reply: ‘I live there, but I’m not from there.’ I feel compelled to tell everyone about my immigrant past: ‘I was born in Cuba, my ancestors were Jews who spoke Yiddish and Judeo-Espanyol, and I grew up in New York. I live in Michigan because it’s where I work.’

I suppose I fear that people might get a mistaken impression of me if they think I am from Michigan. It’s a desire to tell the truth of who I am, to assert I am a person of many diasporas, I come from somewhere else, I don’t have a firm allegiance to any single place. I am passing through, grateful for a place to rest my wings.

That I should feel adrift after living in Ann Arbor for so many years might seem absurd, but my sense of connection to place is fluid and complex. The meaning of home, I have come to realise, is full of contradictions, and impossible to encompass in a single definition. [. . .]

For full article, see http://aeon.co/magazine/world-views/where-is-home-for-the-child-of-nomads/

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