Redefining the idea of home

As most of you already know, I was born and raised in Singapore. But that doesn’t mean that I’m Singaporean (in fact, I’m not). I hold an American and Greek passport. Racially speaking, I come from an American, Greek and Japanese passport, but I’ve never lived in any of those places. In Singapore, we don’t own a house, we rent an apartment. We do own a cabin by a lake in northern Japan, but we only stay there a few weeks every summer. My dad’s family lives in the US and my mom’s family lives in Japan. And to top everything off, I’m getting ready to make a move from Singapore to LA to begin college. So with this, well, complicated background, you can imagine how hard it would be to answer the questions, ‘where are you from?’ and ‘where is home?’. In face, it’s more than complicated, it’s nearly impossible. 

Yesterday I was out at the famous Marina Bay Sands shopping with my mom. I’ve always loved the Marina Bay and Central Business District (CBD) of Singapore. While I can say that I’ve been almost everywhere in this small island, for the first time, I stepped outside the first floor of the Sands to stand in a spot I had never stood before. Directly in front of me was a body of water that would eventually turn into the Singapore River. The tall buildings of the CBD towered over the country. The Fullerton Bay Hotel stood with presence right next to the iconic Merlion. If I turned around, the three towers and ‘boat’ of the Marina Bay Sands leaned over me. It was the perfect 360 view of my favorite part of Singapore. There, in that moment, I felt so at home. It was a weird, but really cool feeling. I didn’t quite understand what about that view made me feel so at home, but it did. I quickly began to think more about what a home is and what or where home is for me. 

A home could be a physical house. A home could be the country you were born in. A home could be the place you currently reside. A home could be where your family is from. A home could be where your family lives. A home could be wherever you are with your loved ones. So if all of those things make up a home, where is home for me? I started to think of all the times I had felt at home. I feel at home sitting in the living room with my family in our apartment in Singapore. I feel at home laying out at the beach on a sunny summer day in LA. I feel at home walking through the isles of Greece at night. I feel at home swimming in the lake by my family’s cabin in northern Japan. I feel at home sitting at a small, street-side restaurant in Phuket. I feel at home walking through along the Seine in Paris. So if all of those places and things make me feel at home, that still doesn’t really answer the question, ‘where is home?’. But maybe that’s not a question everybody can answer. Maybe home is not what we have always imagined it to be. You can say that home is where you are from, but then why do I feel at home in the streets of Thailand. You can say that home is where you are with your loved ones, but then why did I feel at home while on a language immersion trip in France without my family. 

For me, home has taken on a meaning of it’s own, and it’s taken me 18 years to realize that. Home is not a place, home is not a thing, and home is not a person. Home is a feeling, a feeling of happiness. Home is the the places, things and people that make you happy. It’s being able to find smiles and laughter within our world. And that may not be an acceptable or understandable answer for most people, but that’s home for me. 

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