Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Art of Being Homeless

Over the years I have noticed a saying decorating many of my friends' houses.  "Home is Where the Heart Is."  It may have been lovingly cross stitched by a Grandma, or purchased at Hobby Lobby to fill a space on a wall.  I used to think of that little quip in a fond way as well.  In my pre-expat mind, it wouldn't matter where I traveled or where the journey of life took me.  Home wouldn't matter because my heart could create a place of belonging.

The thing is, the only places I have seen that quote is in a home, where people live for years and put down roots and build a lives for themselves.  I have never seen it boldly placed on the wall of one of my expat friends' homes--ever.

The last few weeks have found me homeless.  This happens every two or three years, when we finish our assignment in one country and prepare our lives for the next.  It's a time of transition, a mandatory five weeks off.  It's a time when we don't belong anywhere.  This may sound very liberating, freeing, and even relaxing.  It's not.  With no place to call home, we have to live someplace and drive something and get all the doctor and dentist appointments done.  We have family to see and friends to reconnect with.  And we do all that with no sense of belonging.

For me this is a miserable time of life.  I dread it for three months leading up to it and spend my first three months in a new country recovering from it.

I think I would actually enjoy a month at home, doing all the things I need to do, if I already had my home in the new country set.  My spirit would have a sense of stableness to it, knowing that my things are in order.  I would certainly feel I was able to pack much better.  I packed for this summer squeezing everything into my suitcases to finish the season in one country, live the summer in another and move to a third climate.  Then, I added a few work outfits for my new job.  Throw in a few gifts, the important papers that need to be hand carried from post to post and my suitcase was too full.  I managed to make it home, but not with anything that actually matches or is appropriate for any of the weather I have encountered.  Thankfully, I am home in the land of good shopping.

About a week into our mandatory vacation, I was so unsettled in my spirit,  that I went on facebook and changed my status to "homeless."  A friend replied back, "Sounds so pitiful."  All I could do is nod my head and say "I feel so pitiful."  So far I have made my home at my parents' house, in various hotels, a bed and breakfast and a camper.  I have slept on mattresses, air mattresses, foam, couches and even made a pile of towels on the floor my bed for the night.  It's wearying to the soul.

So, is there a way to endure this period with becoming damaged and even to embrace it and find rest?  I think there is, but it takes some understanding and flexibility on the part of my friends and family to handle my odd situation with grace.

I found this post unpublished and incomplete.  I decided to go ahead and publish it so that it could be read as part of my journey. 

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