Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Today, I’m flying back to the U.S. for the first time in a whole year - the longest I’ve ever been away from “home.”

In the midst of a crazy frenzy of packing and last-minute Christmas shopping, I’ve been thinking where IS home for me?

In Turkey, when someone asks me where am I from, I have an easy response ready.

Amerikaliyim, ama şimdi Istanbul’da oturyurum.” (I am American, but now I am living in Istanbul.)

The longest I’ve lived in the same place is in the state where I grew up - Nebraska. My parents, brother and other relatives are still there or in Kansas and Iowa. But I haven’t called Nebraska home per se for 13 years.
2005: A fun picture my dad took of me at a John Deere plant in Nebraska.
When I visited my hometown last year, I felt out of place. It’s a whole different way of life to me now after living in large metropolitan cities for seven years. Sure, some things still resonate with me like listening to and singing along with old country music songs on the radio, visiting the local cafe where everyone knows my dad and eating a simple, but delicious steak and potatoes dinner.

I’m happy to see my family and friends back home, but I wouldn’t see myself living there again.

I also called NYC home for 3 years. I loved my life there, especially being involved and working in the restaurant industry. But I’m not sure I can call it home either - maybe a pit stop for a slice of NY pizza and visiting old friends.
2006: Mom and me in NYC
Baltimore, MD., - a view of the inner harbor.
We most recently lived in Baltimore, MD, before moving to Istanbul. Our townhouse is still there, and I miss my roofdeck garden and local restaurants. However, is that city home?

The easiest answer now is that Turkey has become my home - where I live. I’ve tried hard to embrace the language, culture and daily life as much as possible. I don’t live in a “bubble” like some expats I’ve met.
A view of Istanbul - the city that's stolen my heart! =)
I think that’s why I’ve fallen hard for Turkey.

Sure some things are annoying and incovenient like taxi drivers that try and rip you off because you are the yabancı or trying to find a whole turkey for Thanksgiving. But at the same time, Jason and I have made a new life for ourselves in a foreign land that I love! (And yes, we still miss our friends and family back in the U.S. too.)

On my way back to our apartment last night, I got a little misty eyed as I crossed the Galata Bridge over the Bosphorus in the tramvay. Maybe it’s possible to call two countries home for now!

Where is “home” for you?

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Julia said...

It's the inevitable question that arises as soon ans you leave your childhood home I think. I prefer to think of ourselves as 'citizens of the world.' :) Fethiye is definitely home for us. Glad you've managed to embrace life in Turkey outside of the expat bubble. I think you get so much more out of being here when you throw yourself into the unfamiliar. Enjoy your time back home / in the States, Joy. Just think about the pizza. ;)

jaz@octoberfarm said...

that is a tough one for me too. i easily adapt to wherever i am living and make it feel like home. i have lived all over and am now back in the town i was born in which feels more like home than anywhere else but i am feeling antsy and want to move again. i am looking at the hudson river valley which has exploded on the food scene. i think i will always keep a home here too though. if you want something to put you in a xmas mood, check this out:

enjoy your trip and i hope you show some of it!

Anonymous said...

Great post Joy. I lot of what you said sure resonates with me, as you know Jason and I grew up kind of nomadic. While all of our moves growing up were in the United States, believe me, some of our moves sure felt like a new country. For me, home was wherever my mom, dad and brother were, I think that is part of what made us such a tight group. Back then when we moved the only form of communication with our "old lives" was the mail or the "count-your- minutes" long-distance phone call. So once we moved it was usually a clean break. I am grateful for the technology that allows me to stay in touch with you two even over such a great distance! It's so great that you feel sad about leaving Turkey because that tells me that you are happy there, and we could not ask for anything more. Can't wait to see you both! Love, Adam

Danielle said...

I love this post, Joy. Thanks for sharing. :)

Unknown said...

I am so glad you decided to share this post. Have a great time visiting with family and friends.

Miss Footloose | Life in the Expat Lane said...

It's wonderful you feel Turkey is home. Do you mean home for now or forever?

I hail from the Netherlands, married an American in Kenya, lived in a number of foreign countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and now I'm in Moldova, Eastern Europe.

I always make a home where ever I am, but I know we will leave again in a few years time. Where is my true home? I don't know! I love visiting family and friends in Holland and the US, but I feel a bit foreign in both places since I haven't lived there for years. Once you've traveled and had your horizons broadened, it's very hard to truly fit in again in your home place because you've changed so much.

It's time for us to find a more permanent perch somewhere, and invest in making a new life there, but I don't know where!

Joy said...

Thanks for the comments everyone! Finally got some good sleep after a long 11-hour flight to NYC yesterday.

So it seems, the more you travel, home becomes where you make it, where you hang your hat, where your heart is, etc.

Joy said...

@ Julia, I like the comment "citizens of the world." That's a good one! And I had my first slice of pizza last nite. Delish!

@ Miss Footloose, Turkey will be home for the next 18 months or so, more than likely. Then, we'll see where we move on to next.

It's funny my husband and I often talk about how we never imagined we would be doing this. Moving to NYC was the first step for me realizing there's so much more out there in the world to discover. And now, after living in Turkey and traveling, I realize how much MORE there is in the world to search out and discover!

Expat Taxes said...

Have a great trip! Enjoy every moment of it!

Joy said...

Thank you! It was a great trip and time, seeing everyone!

edibe @ edbdesigns said...

I know this is an old post, but I am just browsing through your blog and various posts... I feel you... I was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia to parents of Turkish origin who moved here 40 years ago. However, I have also been living in Istanbul... I just cannot manage to stay for too long in either country. I love Istanbul so so deeply, but my immediate family will never move to Turkey. So I am back now, and after 3 months of being back in Australia, I plan to make a permanent move back to Istanbul next month. So, honestly, I do think you can call two places home, even though it's not as easy as it sounds. :)

Joy said...

@edibe, Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story! I've loved living in Istanbul, and we are about to embark on a new move in the next month or so. Not sure where we eventually will call a permanent home, but Istanbul will always hold a special place in my heart. Home is where the heart is, right? :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!