The act of living in limbo was never something I thought I could cope with, let alone master and perfect. Alas, I have succeeded, I have grown akin to the common bee, floating from flower to flower sucking the nectar from each before leaving abruptly and going to the next one.
Nearly five years ago before I embarked on my emigration adventure I had a very fixed idea of what home was, and what it should be. Firstly I thought a home had to offer a certain level of comfort and even luxury if available. I thought that a home was indeed not a home without a complete and matching set of good quality cutlery. I thought a home would need to have limitless Wi-Fi, Sky TV and a monitored alarm. I thought home was where you knew everyone in the vicinity and where you would stay forever, living comfortably with those same folk. However my sojourn abroad has taught me that home is none of those things, home is anywhere and everywhere you live with your loved ones. Believe me, having left Jakarta and now planning to move to somewhere between Dun Laoghaire and Kuala Lumpur, there is no choice as this current point but to get philosophical and enjoy Limbo.
Limbo at the moment, (because limbo is always changing) offers a drawer of mismatched cutlery, chipped mugs and top-up Wi-Fi which is always running of juice as teenagers appear unable to limit their streaming of ‘Dance Moms’, ‘Pretty Little Liars’ and ‘Cupcake Wars’ Limbo offers a certain freedom as you guffaw at those who have conservations about matching curtains and bed-sheets as you sleep peacefully in your Aunts hand-me-down duvet set. Discussions about cars verses MPVs sees you zone-out because when you live in Limbo you’re only interested in getting from A to B. Despite not having the material benefits limbo has all the important things, good coffee, cheap wine and a pair of little fat arms around your neck every morning. Limbo also invites an appreciation into your life so when the suggestion for a new destination is Macau, you don’t shudder and shriek instead you answer wistfully, ‘interesting culture’. When the suggestion is Mumbai, you answer practically, ‘we did survive Jakarta’. When the suggestion is Azerbaijan you answer immediately, ‘no fecking way’, Limbo affords perspective, not disillusionment.
But as the summer passes, and people start getting busy with back to school and the upheaval they face moving out of the caravan in Roscarbery and back to their secure home in Blackrock, the beauty of living in Limbo begins to fade and nerves begin to fray as the question that looms large, is ‘where are we going to live?’. Having spent the summer in floaty flowery skirts (metaphorical, of course, as my wardrobe is a paragon of the capsule wardrobe, full off easily interchangeable earthen colours and quiet sophisticated structure), I am now champing at the bit to get back into a routine, any routine, any country, any continent, even an idea of north, south, east or west will do, just a hint of direction, please!
To clarify the misconception, living life on the move is not easy and any impression of calm and control is the direct result of intense effort on the part of the expat. It becomes vital for maintaining mental health to find one’s own centre when life offers no fixed point and no clue of where the temporary fixed point will be. ‘Home is where the heart is’……..that’s all very well until your heart is in your mouth waiting for a job offer and your life possessions and favourite suede shoes are in a container in a warehouse in Jakarta, Where is home then?
Enough of this floating from flower to flower, I’m tired of the taste of sweet nectar, I need Wi-Fi, a TV package and matching cutlery. Having lived without a spaghetti strainer for seven weeks, I’ve had enough. Enough of mis-matched bed sheets. Enough of hire cars, spare rooms and living out of a suitcase.
The irony is, for the first time we’re all at home, in Ireland but home never seemed further away.