My husband and I took our annual holiday shopping trip today. As usual, for the most part, the day was fairly enjoyable. But there's always that tipping point for my hubby–that moment when the wrong move, wrong comment, wrong reaction will turn the day into something like a funeral, without the pretty music. That's why we cope by stopping the madness of purchase, no matter what, and catch a movie. Today we went to see Brooklyn. And it was delightful.
There are lots of opinions about immigration right now. This is no political blog, so don't go looking for a stance. But we just watched a movie which artfully depicts an immigrant's experience in the 1950's. In Brooklyn, a young Irish girl comes to America to find a better life. (The movie is a clever, well-acted romance, I'd highly recommend for a date night. Or girls night. Or family night. It's actually quite versatile.) As I watched the girl leave her family and the familiarity of her Irish/Catholic customs and community, it dawned on me how terribly courageous and difficult it would have been (and is) to leave everything you know and love for the unknown. Eventually, the girl has the opportunity to go back to Ireland or stay in Brooklyn. The choice doesn't come easy. I won't spoil the ending. Anyway, she eventually has to define where her home is. Powerful stuff.
What is home?
When Alex was back a few weeks ago on break, she made a comment about when she'd be heading "home," aka Iowa City. I quickly corrected her by saying, "You are home. You're going back to college." She paused. Then sort of glossed over the subject. The truth is, I get it. I know she loves where she's at right now. She feels she belongs there. I know she also feels she can come here anytime as well and feel...home. But she wants to be in Iowa City right now.
That's the true definition of home, isn't it–wherever you belong. It's almost a state of being, not really a place. When you're home, you're...home. It doesn't matter what house or city you happen to be in. What matters? Are you safe? Are you loved? Can you love?
Home is a pretty easy concept when we share similar values and ideas. It gets more complicated when we vary outside the norm of our traditions. Many people aren't prone to celebrating differences. Just some. I don't think they realize it. But the United States has about as good of a start as any country on the planet. And it all started with some immigrants, a while ago. We're still trying to adjust to each other, I think.