Although I am living in The Netherlands for almost 16 years, I start to wonder when I will feel at home here? And actually what is a home, when do you feel at home and where is mine?
During the first years here I was definitely a “stranger”, I knew I had to learn so much from Dutch language to boring cheese sandwiches for lunch. But even if I did my best to learn Dutch and speak it as much as I could and I tried really hard to eat everyday at 12.00 two lonely slices of bread with a piece of yellow cheese in between, it did not work. I could not connect and feel comfortable. In my free time I went to sportschool, became a volunteer for a dance project, a volunteer for the school of my kids, but still I was and stayed the French one. The lady that speaks with an odd accent. How many times did I feel stupid and/or have I been treated like half an idiot just because my sentences in Dutch were not that sophisticated and did not have the finesse they could have in French. How many times did I see and still see that pity look in the eyes of some people while I’m talking because my vocabulary isn’t wide as the sea and my flow isn’t smooth. For someone like me, who has a degree in didactic and modern literature it’s a bit harsh, frustrating, good for the work on the ego but it also sometimes makes me despair. Human beings are prompt to judge. They judge with what they see, what they hear or heard, but what if we let go of the judgement and rejoice in our diversity? What if we take the time, but I mean really the time, to know each other and connect.
As a matter of fact it is incredibly frustrating to be part of a community, of a society where you belong without actually belonging to it. I’m living here, I interact with people here on a daily basis and yes, I pay taxes here but I do not have the right to vote for elections for example. Each and every time it gives me such an awful feeling deep inside, I feel like I’m a ghost alive. Of course, at some point, I realised that I am different and that I should embrace it instead of trying to hide it and constantly adapt myself. Nonetheless, the feeling of being a stranger became a part of me, a constituent of myself. What stood out for me is that I have the same when I am in my birth town and birth country; there too I feel like a stranger. I’m not part of it anymore and to be more precise I am not a part of anything. I’m floating in between multiple languages, cultures, habits, preoccupations, priorities, states of mind.
So where is my home? Will I ever find a place where I will feel rooted enough to call it home? While questioning myself another question came to my mind, what is actually a home? The answer did not come with a specific place, it came with the shapes, the lines, the structure and the color palette of a Lily. This is my home, that feeling that burns inside of me when I’m photographing this delicate flower or any others, this is it. This is love, and peace, and happiness. It feels secure, familiar and warm. It’s a home, a home sweet home and you are free to visit.
May you all have a blissful day wherever you are.