It’s my home.
Home is many things. It’s the comfort of familiarity. We do things our way in our home, and there’s a shared and unspoken history that belongs just to us. It’s a sense of belonging: the door to my home is always open to me, and to the people I love.
My home is more than just my house. I live in a house with my husband and my son. My son was born just a few kilometres from our house, and came home with us when he was just a few days old. Of the three of us, our son probably has the most claim on our house as ‘home’. He’s never known any other. At five years of age, the ways of our house are the ways of the world, as far as he knows. Promite is better than Vegemite, because that’s what we eat in our house.
Home is family as much as it is a place. Family ties bind us with a sense of belonging. Families change over time: we lose family members, and we gain them. I gained family when I married, and my in laws embraced me with open hearts. My in laws are culturally different from me in ways that go beyond Promite (though on that particular custom, we happen to agree). We’ve crossed borders of habit and history, but we’ve also pushed our way through linguistic obstacles and learned to communicate mostly without difficulty. We’ve laughed and cried together, and though I was not born into this family, our family is strong and real. My son is now a concrete, genetic marker of our families’ mingling, but we were family even before he was born.
I have a home I’ve never seen or visited. My mother lives there. It’s my mother who makes that place a home for me: wherever she is will also always be home. My mother’s house is somewhere that will always belong to me by birthright. My mother will always be my mother: her house will always be my home. It’s a warm and comforting feeling, to know that even though I left my mother’s house as a teenager, I can always return and be welcomed.
This is my country. I was born here, so it will always be my home. I belong here: I understand the ways of my community, I participate freely with the assurance of a native. The unspoken rules and shared understanding belong to me. If I leave this country, it will still be my home, even if I have a new home somewhere else. This is my land, these people are my people.
My family is enriched by the people who have ‘married in’ to my extended family and brought their own habits, languages, and foods with them. Not all of them will ever really understand my love of Promite, but my table is laden with sashimi, pho, wurst, and dhal, with cornbread and souvlakia, kim chi and brie. I carried my son close to my breast in a mei tai when he was tiny, and sometimes I carried him in a rebozo. These new flavours have become an intrinsic part of the way I live, as if they had always been so. My son nestled close to me, hearing my hearbeat, wrapped in a Chinese or South American carrier. Without words, he knew he was home.
With different languages and different habits, our family is a little more complicated. We don’t always understand each other. Sometimes just getting along takes effort. Home is not always an easy place to be, even though we belong.
For those who’ve come across the seas, we’ve boundless plains to share.
This is my Australia. It is my home. We are a family.
Happy Australia Day.