I spent this past weekend visiting what I sometimes think of and often refer to as my home, Ann Arbor Michigan. It's where I grew up and lived from 1985-2003. It is where my parents both still live. It is still a home base where many of my best friends' parents live, so we all return to for holidays and events - like this weekend's bachelorette party. It was a great time seeing friends and family who I miss greatly and it was time to focus on just me, as I left my sweet little family (husband and baby girl) at my other home in Austin. So over these three days amidst the time reconnecting with friends and enjoying family time, I ruminated over the complicated and wonderful concept of home.
I do think I will always consider Ann Arbor my home, it is the city where I feel most comfortable navigating, the place where I have the most people I love, and I love the feel it gives my heart. It is completely and utterly undeniable.
But Austin is also my home because it is where Kevin and I have chosen to build a home and a life. We are the family that we create and we are creating a home for our daughter together here. And it is beautiful, and vibrant and fun and great for us. Having been here less than a year I still doesn't feel completely settled - but we're getting there. We have a beautiful neighborhood and loving neighbors and a few friends. We're still working on the friends thing. It's harder my not working and it's even more difficult for Kevin who travels Monday through Thursday.
And then we have our other home in northern California, where the other part of our family lives, where Ana was born and where I'm sure my husband feels at so greatly home.
On the plane ride home (see, there I go again, home is Austin) I watched Human Flow, a documentary about the worldwide refugee crisis. It got me thinking even more. Does it matter where I consider home? Not really. What really matters is that we have loving people in our lives, near and far. And that we have a home. We have that security. We are beyond lucky and I am forever grateful.
According to the moving and difficult-to-watch documentary, 65 million people around the world are refugees.
A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. -UNHCR
65 million people have had to flee their homes, the places where there children grew up, the places where they feel comfortable, the places where they have built a home, built a life, can communicate with others... and it goes on and on. It is absolutely heart breaking.
And what's worse is that around the world there are these people, our human brothers and sisters, who have no where to go because countries are closing their borders and saying, "No thank you, you do not belong to us, and so we cannot help you or take you in. We do not want you here." In the film it was stated that in 1989 only 11 countries had border walls or fences. Yet today, over 70 countries have constructed barriers to keep refugees from entering their countries.
What have we become? How have we so lost our humanity that we are turning away our human brothers and sisters? How can we look children in the eye and say, "Go back to your country where your house was bombed and you have no shelter, no doctors and have lost everything."?
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. -Mother Teresa
So where do we go from here? That I do not know, I do not have the answer. But I do know that I will tell people about what I have learned and I will encourage others to watch this documentary. I will be calling my Representatives again and watching their actions (or lack of, in Texas) around policies surrounding asylum seekers and refugees.
And, I will continue to be grateful and even more so now for my many homes that I have had and still have in this life.
I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself. -Maya Angelou