Can you go home?

As I get ready to travel to Buenos Aires this week, I am faced with the same question I face every time I go. Am I going home?. And the answer is always complicated... I've been living in the US, at this point, most of my life. I am an American citizen. I am used to the freedoms and guarantees our society offers to every citizen. And yet...

Years ago, an Argentinean Oleh (immigrant to Israel) had a fleeting moment of fame as a singer, and one his songs was "Ani Od Holem B'Sfaradit" ("I still dream in Spanish"). Beyond the obvious reference to the fact that our subconscious might still function in the language we learned from the cradle, I believe there is more to it that shows at first glance.

First of all, it is the people we left there, but not behind... Family, friends. They still occupy an important part of who we are - and yet, so do the friends we made in our new home (in my case the US). Memories that are difficult to share, since they refer to an adolescence and youth so different from the ones my American friends experienced. Also memories that are difficult to share because they belong to painful times. And the difference in experiences also affects my perspective... by having experience two very different societies, I am willing to look at things differently - even when that different view might lead me to see what I don't want to see...

I then I get there, I go through immigration, and step into a world which is not the one of my memory. It is a world that retains some superficial similarities with the world I remember, but  30 years it is no longer the same. And the weirdest thing is that it still exists in the places I remember - the Restaurants, the Coffee shops, the streets, the parks - Those are still the same, but it is like looking in a mirror, seeing a face and not recognize it as your own.

Home is a feeling, but for those of us who chose to move from the society we were born into and embrace the society to which we moved, that feeling becomes irreversibly divided. Federico Garcia Lorca, in one of his poems, once said "I don't feel like a foreigner anywhere, because the world has witnessed my wanderings"; and it does capture an important aspect of the feeling I'm trying to describe. The other part of that feeling can probably be best described by an ancient Chinese saying: "You can never bathe twice in the same river", meaning that whether we like it or not, the river keeps flowing and changes, so when we bathe in it again, it is not the same river. 

As Human Beings, we are animals of Habit but also of Change. Both, the new and the familiar define us in ways we cannot even imagine. Like Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent of Mesoamerican myth, each of us exist as a bridge - not between earth and the heavens like Quetzalcoatl, but between our own past, present and future. While Life is a narrow bridge we need to transit without fear, it is also a journey of wonder and memory and hope. Maybe we can make life itself our home, and like Lorca, not feel a foreigner anywhere...

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