At Home in Uganda
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I have a big world map up on my wall. It’s filled with red and yellow pushpins, showing all of the places I’ve lived and visited. Green pushpins mark out my lengthy bucket list. But there will never be one place – no matter if I spend sixty years there – that will truly be home to me. My home is scattered around the world, and the only place where it all meets is inside of me.
For a long time, I pitied myself because of this. I know that many people often think that third culture kids (or any kids who grow up traveling from place to place) are unfortunate, because they don’t have a single place to call home. And for a long time, I actually believed this. I complained about my lack of a home, and envied those people who got to grow up in a single place. I longed for solid roots that went down deep into a single place. Home.
But maybe my ideas are shifting. I’ve come to accept moving around as a strength, and not a weakness. Moving around doesn’t mean that we don’t find home anywhere, but that we make everywhere we move, home. My home is scattered around the world, but maybe that’s a good thing.
Home isn’t any one single place in my head. But instead, it’s many places: houses, and landscapes, and foods – things I’ve tried and experienced. Most importantly, home is people. Home is over a hundred people spread across five continents whom I know and love. All of these things make my home much bigger, broader, and fuller than many people will be able to experience. Why did I think this was a bad thing for so long?
I left for my trip to Uganda hoping to find another home to add to my list. I’d never done that before: set out on a trip hoping to make a new home. Every time we moved around as a family, I went into a new place determined to dislike it (and by the end always fell in love with that home anyways). So, even if Uganda was only a week-long trip, if I went into it hoping to make it home, well, I’d see what would happen.
I was only there for a week, but Uganda became home, as best as it could. It’s a red pin on my map, which means I lived there. I don’t think the shortness of the visit matters all that much. I was with good friends, and made new good friends. I was adopted into a family at New Hope. I fell in love with the natural beauty there, and the food (especially the fruit! Oh my word). It was my home for a week. We left New Hope to go on a safari, and while we were on the safari our team kept talking about going home, to New Hope. We’d been there about five days at that point.
When we left, I was sad, and it hurt – if I were a cry-ey person, I’d have cried. Too often I think of the goodbyes when I think of all the places I’ve lived. But since I’ve left Uganda, I’ve been thinking of all that went on while I was there. I have all of those memories locked up inside of my head now, forever; and my idea of home is bigger because of Uganda. Uganda is a part of my home, even if I only lived there for a week.
It’s kind of weird to think of home this way. I mean, usually, we think of houses – the places we’ve lived. But home is way broader than that. It’s the people you love. It’s the food you try. It’s the experiences you have: the bike you learn to ride, the hiking in the woods you do, or the first date that you go on. Home is so huge you couldn’t even capture it in one place if you tried. There’s only one place where it all fits together: inside of you. You make your home. And yours is different than mine. There is no one person in the world who has the same home as you.
And that is an awesome thing.
So let’s keep exploring. Let’s keep discovering and traveling. There’s an entire world out there, and you’ll never fully explore it all or get to the end of it. So make your home as big as it can be. As for me? I plan on traveling for the rest of my life. See you somewhere along the road.