I’ve always considered myself a wanderer, never quite fitting in to the status quo; always transforming, or reducing myself into what others expect of me. Growing up as “the pretty girl” or “the popular girl”, I dutifully fulfilled society’s expectations, all the while feeling like a stranger in my own country.
It came as no surprise then that, no less than one week from graduating from my home town university, I was on the fourteen-hour journey from Brisbane to Dubai, bursting with desire to break free of my homegrown stereotypes and enter a world where almost everyone is doing the same – reinventing themselves.
At the time, I did not realise how far I would leap into my new world, and now, after three and a half years of living in Dubai, it is definitely safe to say I have adapted well to my new culture and lifestyle, feeling more at peace in the majlis in Jumeirah than anywhere in the southern hemisphere, and craving karak and zaatar whenever I stray far from the region.
The fourteen hour flight from DXB to BNE is a route I know well, having spent over 200 hours in the cabin of an Emirates A380 since 2012, never escaping the the feeling of not knowing if I am flying to or away from home.
Having just returned “home” from what is fast becoming a quarterly trip, I find myself answering the same question – “where is home?”
Is my birthplace considered home, or is it where I feel my truest self?
In which case is home a physical place, merely a set of coordinates on a map or could it be a mindset?
So I did what any millennial does when facing existential roadblocks and turned to Google, and the smart people behind its algorithm fed me this:
the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.
It’s the permanence thing that gets me, I don’t agree that a home should be dictated by length of stay, nor by a family unit. Without any satisfaction, I revert to my initial thoughts of myself as a wanderer, with little satisfaction from my friends at Google.
a person who travels aimlessly; a traveller.
I travel purposely, to find new experiences, meet new people, taste new spices, travel roads untravelled, connect with nature and always with an unbridled desire to never stop exploring. I don’t travel aimlessly, I am not “looking for myself” or any of the other nuances that are so often attributed to young travellers.
So where is “home”? For me, it lies in the weathered pages of my passport, the stories told amongst travellers, the sheets of countless beds I’ve slept in, from mud huts in Nepal, hostels in Zanzibar and the couches of strangers in Stockholm.
Is Australia home? Not necessarily. Is Dubai? For the moment. And what definition did I find that reflects my feeling of home most succinctly?
- a nomadic Arab of the desert.