Finding Home on Halloween

F R E S H-1When living abroad you get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. The norm is to not understand what is being said. If you heard English speakers around you while at the grocery store, that would be uncomfortable. You get used to all the things that feel so different, until different feels normal.

So we often don’t notice in the midst of our busy lives when places begin to feel like home. We can’t put a finger on that moment when relief comes.  You just feel like you can be who you are and that you are in exactly the right place.

Halloween was a night, that when I look back on it, felt completely right. I felt as if I were again a part of a community. I felt a sense of belonging to a place. Even though I wasn’t hanging out with people I knew well, I felt at home.

I donning my purple wig (husband refused to dress up) and my child clad in her pink skeleton pajamas, wandered the streets of our village in search of ghouls, goblins, and candy.

We bumped into some of my daughters local school chums. We saw a few of my students raiding their neighbors’ bowls of candy.   We shrieked with delight when one neighbor created an elaborate scheme to scare us. We were even invited into a garden for Glüwein and a bonfire. The evening came to a close with a good meal, great conversation, and much laughter.

How do you know when you finally feel “at home” in a place so far from home?

As an expat, it is difficult to know when you have finally attained that sense of belonging to a place.  It is almost like that moment when you realize you don’t hurt anymore after a bad break up. You don’t know when the change in your heart occurred but you realize, in that moment, that finally all is right in your world.

We went in search of ghouls and goblins and instead found home.

11 replies

  1. Awesome post, Kathleen. I’m so glad you’ve found home where you are. I agree that a sense of home can develop over time, and at some point you realize that growth has taken place in a cumulative sense and you’ve changed. As you said so well, “You don’t know when the change in your heart occurred but you realize, in that moment, that finally all is right in your world.”

    • Actually my community is really into it. It is the same as in the states. People decorate their front step to indicate they have candy. But the porch light might be off to accentuate the candles in the pumpkins. And some families just leave a bowl on the front porch. Kids only take one, it is the law, or at least they have a great sense to stick to the rules.

  2. Great post! I always get this warm feeling when I meet other German speakers in our local supermarket: many Asian people spent some time in Germany as asylum seekers, and have now moved on; their children were born in Germany and still speak the language, often much better than their parents, and they are genuinely excited to exchange memories, especially of food.
    I have to say I left Germany before Halloween caught on 😉

  3. So glad you got a treat as oppose to a trick! You know you are home when you open the door to your loved ones, but opening the door to the outside does take some time and adjustment. I believe that you are capable of making your classroom feel like “home” to your students!

  4. Having lived in 6 cities in 5 countries I know this feeling – the moment when a neighbor asks your to jump start thier car, a spontaneous street party, being asked to look after a child as her Mum races urgently to hospital. Moments, when you feel you “belong” somehow can call it home for that moment 🙂

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