I’m home for the first time in almost five years, which is the longest I’ve been gone without visiting. Maybe this is the reason why I am noticing more changes than in the past. Subtle changes like an increase in self-service and a decrease in customer service. Other not so subtle things, like an increased polarity of perspective.
Other things don’t change at all. Friendships that slip straight back into normal conversation, as if it hasn’t been three, five or seven years.
Still, I feel more foreign here than I do where I just came from, though where I came from is no longer home, and I find myself slipping into defensive mode about my most recent “home” and my soon to be new “home.”
There are so many misperceptions about the world, When I lived in Taiwan, my students commonly thought that Americans didn’t love their children as much as Asian parents because of the movie Clueless – apparently, because the main character has a lot of freedom, my students perceived Americans as unconcerned about their children. Obviously, this perception is ridiculous, and I am sure we perceive ourselves as very caring parents.
The perceptions about the Middle East are equally unfounded. Yet, it’s difficult and somewhat exhausting to try to explain how wonderful the Middle East is. Or Taiwan. Or Sweden. Or England. All places, I very much consider as home.
My whole life, I have encountered questions about my “homes,” my ethnicity and my experiences. The questions are generally well-meaning, but they are not always respectful. This time home, I find myself floundering for patience and missing the people with whom I share common experiences.
Regardless of where we are from or what we believe, we are not so different from one another. I wonder at what point, we can accept this and stop trying to compare and compete?