I had planned a lovely vacation this year. One week in France, two weeks in Sweden and 10 days in Italy at the end of August. I was so looking forward to going home to see my friends and family. With home, I was thinking of Sweden; Stockholm and Blidö.
In September, I will have lived abroad for three years in a row. While having lived in other countries earlier, it has never been for more than a few months, to a year at most, before returning back home for at least another 1.5 years. Home again being Sweden and Stockholm.
Throughout these past three years, my notion of home has been changing several times. As I have written earlier on this blog, after little more than a year in Rome, I started to miss the company of my friends in Stockholm immensely and I decided to go back to Stockholm once a month. But I realized quickly that it was only my friends that I missed and to some extent my apartment and Blidö. Not Stockholm so much, and not Sweden and the Swedish way. I noticed that when I scheduled my trips in my calendar, I wrote “Going to Stockholm” and “Coming back home again”, with the latter referring to Rome.
During my first nine months in Chisinau, I almost did not go back to Sweden at all, and yet I started referring to Stockholm as “home” again. I honestly do not know why, because I feel much more comfortable here than I did in Rome and my work and living situation here is much more stable than it has ever been. My theory is that it has to do with where I have close friends that I share my everyday life with. As it takes time to establish a circle of close friends, I obviously do not have that yet in Moldova. But it might also have to do with the languages here. Through slowly progressing, my language skills in Romanian and Russian are still limited and it is difficult to really feel like you are part of society when you cannot easily grasp conversations and written messages around you.
What I realized this time that I went back to Sweden, though, was that I did not really feel at home there at all anymore. I am still very comfortable with most of my friends (although I unintentionally have lost contact with some), but things changes over the years. Not only with me but obviously also everywhere else, including in Stockholm. And not necessarily in the same direction. This time, I saw these differences more clearly. At the same time, being in France and meeting my family there really felt like coming home. I still know Paris in and out and if I could chose, I would move there without hesitation. (But as I chose job over geographical location, Washington D.C. seem more likely to be the next stop for me.) So right now, I cannot really say where home is for me. It is not yet in Chisinau but it is not in Sweden anymore. Perhaps I will feel very at home in Rome when I go there in two weeks. Maybe my home is a little bit in all the places where I have lived. Or maybe it is just a concept that some of our cultures have invented. Above all, I feel very at home with myself and in my life, and that is probably what is most important. I am after all the person that I always have to live with!