I’ve never felt part of anything, exclusion is a perpetual state that has followed me around since I was 8 years old, when my parents packed up our big Virginia house and dashed across the ocean to Europe. Since then, I’ve always been an outsider, peeking in, clutching and embracing other cultures and countries, all the while not feeling part of anything but myself. I never enjoyed team sports, preferring to run or swim. I work in an industry where I spend the majority of my time alone. I don’t have huge groups of friends but clusters of two or three dotted around the world.
I will happily complain about any city I live in or visit because patriotism isn’t a concept I have ever been familiar with. I’m envious of the people in my life with roots – to tie a tiny bit of your identity to a location seems quite comforting in a way. I barely feel American anymore, and while my accent might deceive people, I left so long ago, I can hardly call it home. It isn’t home, in fact I’m not sure where is. Truthfully, I probably don’t have one. Most days I feel invincible, I’ve lived all over and I know I could adapt to almost anywhere; defining the entire globe as home is a strength I own. But I couldn’t help but feel lonely this week, on a plane somewhere high up in the stretch between Barcelona and Paris, two cities I seem to now exist between. Because here I was leaving one place to another but not knowing which felt more familiar. All the while missing places of my past, like London or Dublin – I was thinking of all these cities where I once set up four walls, where I slept and ate and cried and loved but no longer do and probably never will again.
It is a strange sensation; recollecting all the cities I abandoned. They make me sad in the same way memories with ex boyfriends do. It was and it was lovely but it will never be again. To these men, just like the cities I lived in, I never belonged. Belonging is an emotive impossibility for me. I simply don’t stick. I will always feel left out, which sounds quite sad. I do get tired of adjusting myself culturally, learning what is polite to then relearn a new set of silent rules when I move again. I do get restlessly jealous when friends or boyfriends are surrounded by their entire families and they always know the best places to go and they can sigh when they get off planes and say ‘ finally, I’m home’. I do get desperately tired of missing ; yearning for the company of people I love or the taste of certain coffees at cafes or the view from windows I once looked out of.
Yes, always feeling not quite part of anything at all gets lonely, undeniably so. But then again, it’s all I’ve ever known. And I do like being alone. This world is so big and so beautiful, and while I might not ever have a true sense of home, I am happy to clutch and collect variations of all kinds; lots of wonderful half homes. Or perhaps, I should see it differently, because really, we all have physical homes, I live in my skin and bones. Yes, that’s my home. Here I live and here is where I will settle and scatter through cities and counties I will only ever be capable of calling half homes. It may sometimes be lonely but freedom so often means seeking things, living things on your own, alone.