If you have ever felt like I often have in my life, that you don’t really belong anywhere, then here’s some comfort reading. I’ve lived in three countries over the span of the last 3 years.
I moved from the Bahamas to Wales to Cornwall. In my opinion moving to Wales IS in fact a different country to England, ask any Welsh person.
In each of the countries, I never know where I should call home.
Having lived in the Bahamas for the first 17 years of my life, you would think there would be my home. I was born there and most of my family still live there. All of my childhood memories are there, my family home, my mum, my dad, my brothers, my dogs. But yet I still feel like I’m not bound to the country in any way. I am patriotic to it and proud to say, “I’m from the Bahamas” but is it more of a liking to be different; unique; exotic as it where.
Living in Wales, I write this from my bedroom at my grandparents’ house there, and I love the thick air of the countryside. I moved here after high school, began sixth form ‘against my will’ (really didn’t care where I went) and got plunged into real life so quickly I hastily tried to grow up. Albeit I did not grow up, however much I told myself I had. Still being young and having to adapt to a new country altogether was tough. I look back on myself on the first day of sixth form, being forced out of the car. I desperately did not want to go, I hated change. And this was a big change. I had a friendship circle in the Bahamas that had supported me for the entire lifespan of my education.
Here I faced knowing not a single person and suddenly realised that I was the only ‘foreign’ person attending the entire school from year 7-13. By the end of sixth form, I’d developed some sort of defence mechanism of having an invisible shield around me. I walked with my head up high and tried to act ‘cool’. It wasn’t until I met someone who tore down that barrier, that ‘cool’ front and there was me. There was Kelsi and she was happy and I didn’t need to be cool. I developed into the person I am today through being introduced to new music, new films, new fashion and I loved all of it. They even prepared me for University and I thank them for that.
I approached University with calmness. Trying my hardest not to bolt at the mention of it, I applied and got denied. Got denied everywhere and sat there and thought “this isn’t what I’m meant to do” and devised plans to travel. Plans to save up my money and hop on the plane to Mozambique where I’d become an au pair for a couple my grandparents knew. Who was I kidding? I can’t save money.
I applied again, got into University and was happy with my choice. Things were changing and for the first time, I liked it. Being classified as ‘foreign’ still made me apprehensive. You often feel like you have to try extra hard to make people like you. It’s a horrible thing that society has injected into me, a phobia of being different. But I am different. Hell, I’m six-foot-one and my hair is naturally BIG. I have a strange accent. I have the inability to say words with too many r’s i.e. ‘squirrel’ ‘mirror’ ‘Truro’…it just doesn’t work.
I’ve lived here for coming up to a year now and I love Cornwall. It’s bloody fantastic. I don’t feel alienated and I feel like I can be me. I don’t have that phobia about myself and who I am. I have a small handful of very close friends who put up with me 24/7. I feel completely at ease whenever I think of being there. Is it because it’s near the coast or is it the sense of freedom university gives? A freedom unlike any other. You can dress, act, and talk however it suits you that day.
But yes, I sit here in my room and can’t help but ask myself, which of these places do I belong? I have three beds which I call my own and feel just as comfortable in them as the other. They are mine. And it’s the same with my homes. They are mine and I can visit them when I please and I’ll still feel just as comfy as I did before.
And after spelling it out for you and for myself, I feel a tugging in my heart towards all of them. For different reasons. The Bahamas holds my memories and my family. It has all I grew up with, the smells, the sites, the people I know them all off by heart. And Wales, it is where I became who I am now. It is where I was challenged the most and where I learnt life’s hardest lessons. It’s where I fell in and out of love for the first time. And that, as awfully cliché for a young woman as it is, holds the deepest memory for this place for me. Cornwall…Cornwall is where I am now. It’s where I’m happy. It’s not the past, it holds the future for me. And I see so much potential in that.
The answer to my question is, home lies where you want it to. It just depends on where you are in your chapter of life.