There is one particular question I continually struggle to answer.
It is not that I don’t have an answer; simply that the answer is complex.
Where do you live?
The question asked in passing, on a day-to-day basis, has so much more meaning for me. Why? I am a transplant; a born and raised Australian, who moved to Europe and couldn’t choose between England and France, so decided to make 3 places her home. For many years Provence and London were a split with a bit of Oz thrown in.
My head is full of this conundrum because we have just spent a few days in Sydney and it is home, it always will be. Sydney is familiar – the memories, the friends and the family – it is as if we never left and I love that. Today I am in London, after 24 hours whirling through the skies. London is home today and in particular Notting Hill. The thing is one is no less home than the other because you have to love where you live on any given day. Yes, it has challenges and for all the excitement there are moments when I wish life were less complicated.
And then there is France.
France is home too although I am spending fewer days there than I would like for no other reason than our family is all in London. Love where you live – there is nowhere I would rather be than surrounded by my children. I feel lucky we are all in the same city at the same time and I appreciate I am a very lucky woman. Many of our friends have children and grandchildren living the world over; while they are here, I am staying put. France is a deep and long-term love affair – she’s going nowhere.
Does this mean there might be another move in me?
Once an expat, always an expat. That’s what they say; the first move is the hardest. What I didn’t understand until I moved was that we don’t lose anything. Nothing is given up; life expands. Loving where we live doesn’t mean only one choice; home is an enormous concept on the one hand and a very small one on the other. I would not like to think I have experienced my last, “home”. As long as my gang is with me I am braver now than ever for new adventures.
Multiple lives, many moves and different homes are not for everyone. There is nothing wrong with loving the same and celebrating the familiar. I admit to feeling envious of those with constancy and wonder how our lives would have played out had we stayed in Australia. Yet, I am not one to wish for what I don’t have and I am grateful for the exciting “lives” I have.
If you are thinking of making a big move, don’t underestimate the challenges but also be ready for the exhilaration. Staying put? Then revel in the familiarity and joy of family, friends and shared memories.
What do we have in common? Make sure you love where you live. xv
images, Anja Tufina, Eddy Milfort, David Illiff, Carla Coulson