Just where is home anyway?
That’s a question I’ve been asking myself over the past week as I’ve been on vacation at home in Toronto.
On my flight into the city, I had to fill out customs paperwork stating that I was a Canadian citizen but a resident of Germany. It felt a bit odd not writing down a home address in Toronto but in Berlin.
Is Toronto Home?
Toronto will always be my first home. It’s where I went to university, got married, bought my first home, and built a career. My family was close by, and I had a large group of friends.
Life was not at all bad. But then a time came when I yearned for something more, and my life became all about travel. The more I saw of the world, the more I wanted to see.
Or Is Berlin Home?
I joined the ranks of countless other expats who fell under Berlin’s heady spell. It didn’t take long to settle there, and before I knew it, I’d reestablished myself and soon came to consider the city home as well.
Then things got tough; I moved back to Toronto and did that whole “expat turned repat” thing and easily fell into my old lifestyle.
After my return, Toronto no longer felt so much like home to me anymore. I wasn’t happy there, and all I wanted to do was be back in Berlin.
I wasn’t sure if a move back was really the right decision to make, but after extensively debating the pros and cons, I finally decided to move back to Berlin last November.
Since I’ve been back, I’ve never been happier! I want to apply for permanent residency next year. I’m starting language classes next month. I have a desire to settle down there for a good, long time.
Surely, this means that Berlin is now home?
Maybe I Have Two Homes?
Then my vacation happened.
To be honest, I dreaded it for months. I thought that it wouldn’t be fun as I had so many things to take care of, so many people to see, and not enough time to do everything I wanted.
And I’m actually exhausted. I’ve been in Toronto for a week now and will head to the airport this afternoon, a very tired woman.
Yes, I’ve run countless errands and spent countless hours on the city’s lackluster public transit. I’ve made Uber my friend. But the real highlight was spending a few days with family and having lunches, dinners, and coffees with different friends. I even found time to tour a few of my favourite spots around the city.
Despite the hectic schedule, I’ve had so much fun! It was wonderful to see everyone again, and I felt strangely at home.
As I wrote this post, I had a hard time keeping back the tears as I’ve missed everyone so much. Saying goodbye, again, was much harder than I expected.
It’s all made me think that I should never discount a return to Toronto, something that I never thought I’d say!
Yet, Berlin, as always, is calling. I can’t wait to get back to my apartment, crawl into my giant bed (I’ve been sleeping on couches for the past week), and get back to my daily routine.
I’m happily bringing a little piece of home with me as well. My cat Izzy will be coming to live with me, making my life in Berlin all the more permanent.
My heart is here, my life is here, so I guess that means Berlin is my home for *now*!
Where Is Home?
Watch one of my favourite TEDx videos by Pico Iyer, who discusses the concept of home.