Let me share with you 1. why I never felt at home in my home country 2. how I set out to find a home and then 3. found it somewhat where I started from. This is the first part of this miny epic. Enjoy!
Home is where…
I was 1 year old when my Dad got a job in the US and we moved there. After a few years, my parents got homesick and we moved back to Hungary. I sort of wish we’d stayed.
My first memories are from the States – more a very strong feeling of being accepted than of events or places. I was diagnosed with a physical disability when we moved to the US and I began regular physical therapy. I never felt singled out because of it.
My first memories of bullying are from kindergarten in Hungary. It was here that I first faced the fact that I was different. I didn’t know there was “something wrong with me” until others pointed it out. It’s is not easy to keep telling yourself that everyone around you is wrong – you are actually okay.
I still bear the mark of the harsh difference between these two experiences: I am more outspoken and assertive when I converse in English. I never really felt at home in Hungary. I kept feeling like an outsider. Jewish, feminist, polyamorous, bisexual. My national identity always felt like an afterthought. An accidental circumstance. Although my family was here, the rest of the country didn’t seem to want me around. I had trouble making friends growing up because by mere appearance I was singled out. In my first school, my teacher didn’t like me, having her own issues with kids with disabilities. I felt like a burden among the other kids. In my second school, I was bullied by my classmates, my teachers helpless in resolving the situation. Kids can be vicious if adults don’t teach them better. And so from the physical realm, I fled to the intellectual one, becoming also the nerd in the class. By the time I was leaving for high school I gritted my teeth and counted down the days left to spend among these kids. Years later I still had nightmares about those times. As self-defense, I closed myself off from my surroundings as much as I could. In consequence, I began to crave to go anywhere but Hungary. Not necessarily back to the States, just away from here. Whenever they’d asked me ‘But where do you want to go?’ I listed 3-5 places I would like to visit, to spend time there, but wasn’t drawn anywhere in particular.
(Photo from here.)