It’s an odd thing sometimes being first generation American, especially with a mother who wants nothing to do with her family and a father you never met. I met my first relative when I was 22, an age when I was living alone in a city I had chosen to reside in, not merely a place I had landed in haphazardly. I had purposefully chosen an apartment, my nicest one ever, and was making a place for myself away from anyone I knew and finally going to college. I was home.
The sense of being wanted by, and belonging, to a family was new to me and very much welcomed. I’d never before heard stories of my father, of his childhood and his many brothers and sisters, and I cherished each word. These kind and thoughtful Uncles and Aunts invited me into their homes and gave me the sense of being a part of something I had never known before. I was home.
I made contact and visited with my Mother’s family in Germany. I first met them when I was nearly the same age my mother had been when she last saw them. I was taken to her childhood home, where my Opa still lived, and embraced by her brothers and sisters. My joy in meeting them was reflected back to me in the warmth and interest I saw in their eyes. I was home.
For only the second time in my life, I’ve had the chance to see both sides of my family in the same year and it has been a powerful experience. We’ve shared meals and stories and memories. During my time in the countries where my parents were born, I’ve felt a connection – to my relatives, of course, but also to the air, the sky and the earth. It was almost organic. I was home.
What does home really mean? For me, it means being in a place where I want to be and knowing that I am loved and wanted. Home is everywhere.