Home is a hard place for me to define; more so as I don’t know where I will be living over the next few months – and beyond. Frustratingly, it has been a difficult place for me to identify for much of my life because home for me is less of a physical place and more of an emotional place.
On an emotional level, Scotland is home. It’s where I feel happy; it’s where I feel a connection within my soul; it’s where I feel as if I belong. But on a physical level, I haven’t felt truly settled in a house since Paul died. Even the home we shared lost its feeling of home when he was gone.
I had hoped that my return to Scotland would find me settled in both an emotional and physical sense, but visa worries from the start have kept me from being able to feel secure in my place. And that just makes me question home that much more. It makes me question if I will ever again feel completely at home and completely at peace.
Everything is temporary. My cherished possessions (and my cat*) are in storage waiting for me to know what my future holds. They’re waiting for me to know that I will be somewhere for the long haul.
And because my physical home is unknown for the foreseeable future, it means that I am very unsettled about where home is; about what home is. When I am in Scotland, talking about the place I grew up, I talk of “home”. I talk of “going home” for the summer and visiting family “back home”. But the Homeland isn’t home. And when I’m in the Homeland and I talk of home, I’m talking about Scotland. I’m talking about the place where my heart sings.
But without a residency visa or a physical home in Scotland, it’s not really home, either.
So, where is home? The place I have a legal right to live in doesn’t feel like home and I don’t have a legal right to live in a place that feels like home.
And that, Dear Reader, is one of the biggest struggles of expat life: Wanting to belong, but knowing you don’t.
Still, I am holding out hope that funding for my PhD comes through and I’m able to settle in my beautiful Scotland long-term. That will do my soul a world of good!
* Sadly, the longer it takes to know, the less likely I will ever have my cat with me again. It is, after all, unfair to her and my Ant to tear her away from her new, loving home.