Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Picking up my boots, it's all about my roots, yeah..

We've recently returned from our first trip back in a year to the countries from whence we came, France and England.  For me in particular, who had never lived outside of the UK before, it was an event that I couldn't mentally prepare myself for, it being the first time and all.

When we first came to the Middle East I had quite a strong idea of where I was moving from, a small village in West Sussex, and how I felt about the project of living abroad.  It was a sojourn, a temporary move all be it for some years perhaps, but there was not much doubt that before I knew it we would be back.  When you are doing something completely new and unknown you can only guess as to how it's going to make you feel or act.  Time spent playing out your new life can quickly change your point of view.

East Preston, a jolly nice place.
The first thought provoking moments about my roots came when we met new people out here, who invariably were from different parts of the world and all four corners of the UK, or if you're reading this after the Scottish referendum, perhaps all three corners.  I found myself explaining where our previous home was as no-one has ever heard of the village, then describing life there in a nutshell.  However it soon dawned on me that I wasn't satisfied with that answer.  It was where I was from most recently but I wasn't born there.  I didn't consider myself an adopted son of the county nor an outsider, it just happened to be where I had ended up living and a very pleasant place it is too.

It dawned on me that when you consider where you're from the only thing you have absolutely no choice in is where you are born, although there are probably not many five year olds who get to choose either.  So my answer changed to the city where it all started for me, 'I'm from London', if pushed I could list the places where I've lived since leaving there, but that's the essential truth.  It's also an answer that needs less explanation as to its' geographical location.  If further detail was required, I could reveal that I'd lived in the cheapest place on a Monopoly board, thanks Parker Bros., still traumatised by that.

Luv a duck, it's Laaandon, cor blimey guv'nor.  As Dick Van Dyke may have said..
The next epiphany (are you allowed more than one?) was when we were back in England and people would ask 'how does it feel to be back home'?  My first thought was 'I'll need to let you know when I'm back there'.  Sub-consciously our life and existence here has become more than just a base for a couple of years, it's actually where we call 'home'.  Strange to think when you consider that people of my age are often beginning to plan for their retirement and create an environment that they hope to settle in to ad infinitum. But this affinity to what will always be a non-permanent place to live doesn't make me feel insecure.  I'm happy that I still feel comfortable in East Preston as well as a small village in France where my in-law family live.  Instead of feeling isolated my thoughts are more of how lucky we are to have the opportunity of spending our time in several places, although obviously not at the same time.

Ultimately what this has re-enforced in me is a belief that life is not so much about the place where you reside at a given time but more about the people you're spending your time with, at work or on holiday.  If you're fortunate to have support from people who care about you and who you care about, location is just a formality.  I would never have really appreciated that without experiencing the adventure we've enjoyed for the last year.

Vive la difference..

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