a few months ago i sat down with an acquaintance over coffee, trying to answer her questions about my conceptualization of where “home” was. what i was able to explain to her, what i have come to realize over these past 30 years, is that “home” is not so much a place…constructed out of lumber and brick, with windows and a roof, bedrooms, a front door, and a backyard… but “home” is a feeling…
a feeling of safety, security, comfort, and warmth.
it’s funny that i should have felt at home in a place i hadn’t been to in 11 years.
with family i hadn’t seen in 11 years.
with family i had never met before.
but i felt it. after the initial wave of culture shock passed, after i adjusted to Korean mannerisms and personality traits and idiosyncrasies, i felt like i could stay and make this place my home.
two weeks was entirely too short of a time to spend with my family and friends. it was too short of a time to take the subway, visit places, eat and shop, and be immersed into the culture. i did the best i could, with the situation i was in. but the night before my last day, i knew i wasn’t quite ready to come back to california. i wondered about ways to return for a longer period in the future, and the things i was passionate about offering to this place that the country and its people lacked.
now i am home in los angeles… and i have a few days to re-adjust before returning to work next Tuesday, before life returns to its prosaic sense of normalcy. it’s funny, though, because my world here has gone forward without me, and simultaneously i don’t feel like the person i was before i left. there are experiences that can subtly change a person, and i know i am a product of such change. change so subtle that only i can feel it, taste it.
one of my aunts told me, before i left, that this trip and all the experiences of it will soon seem as if it were all only a dream. indeed each day that passes will bury my memories more and more into my unconscious, as i scheme of ways to return to this other home, and as i return to work and life and my friends and priorities here… no matter how much i try to hang on, i know it will be only a matter of time before the months and years have passed and my visit becomes a mere memory.
i am left simply with that c.s. lewis quote to chew on…
“if i discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that i was made for another world.”