Sunday, October 07, 2012

Born To Be A Nomad

A friend shared this article entitled Moving Around Without Losing Your Roots on Facebook and tagged me on it. It's an article about the meaning of home in a globalized world.

I have to admit that after so many years living abroad, the notion of home gets a little fuzzy to me. Well in truth, even before I came to France, I didn't really know where home was. Since a very young age, my family and I have been following my dad moving from one place to another, so we never really had one place where we felt attached to. When my family finally settled in Kuala Lumpur, I got two full years of staying put in one place until I had to go to boarding school in Perak.

Right after SPM, I went to UM for two months before going to INTEC for three months and then off I went flying to France. You'd think that I would finally be rid of the moving hassle for years until I graduate, but no. In France, all Malaysian students change cities at least once, and on average we move house 3 times during the whole study period. In my case, I've called 8 houses home for the past 7 years.

One problem with moving around is you have barely enough time to make good friends, and when you finally do, you suddenly have to move again. I sincerely don't know the whereabouts of 90% of my childhood friends. This was before social networks and mobile phones, so moving away meant losing your friends forever.

I can safely say that I have lots of acquaintances, but very few good friends. One reason why I'm so secretive and such a loner is because I never had the chance to spend enough time to trust or to gain trust from my friends. I grew up knowing that all my friendships had expiry dates, so there was no point in establishing BFFs because before I knew it, I'd be leaving again.

That, unfortunately, has become my lifestyle. People who know me know that I never really go the extra mile to maintain a friendship. I'm never the go-to friend of anyone, because I myself don't have a go-to friend.

I'm not blaming my dad for working in a field where we had to move so much. In fact, I'm entirely grateful for it, because my siblings and I had the chance to learn different dialects and see different cultures at a very young age. Growing up was never boring because we always experienced new things and ended up mastering the art of adapting to a new environment. But in the process, little by little we lost the ability to feel attached to another person who's not a family member.

So I have mixed feelings about the article. On one hand, you want to feel proud to say that you're a citizen of the world, a vagabond who lives on a ship without an anchor and who knows people at every port in every country. On the other hand, you lose the sense of belonging. Everywhere you go, you're the outsider.

When I have kids, I hope we'll be able to stay put long enough for them to create everlasting friendships.

I loved my childhood but in retrospect, I would also love to have one place where I can safely say "this is where I grew up".

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