going home?

August 6, 2009

Cologne Cathedral & Train Station, 2008:
Hauptbahnhof 2008
This week we will go to Germany and spend the summer holidays with my parents in Cologne/Germany. A lot of people ask me if I am “happy to go home?”.
“HOME”, what is that? I left Cologne about eight years ago. After that I spent two years in Singapore, then five years in Shanghai, and after a job change me and my family settled down in Singapore again in 2008. Even in Germany I have lived in different places, Cologne was just the last one. I go back maybe once or twice a year, usually only for a few days.
People tend to define you by the region/country/city that you come from. In the old days that would have been the place where you were born, where your family and childhood friends live. In Chinese that even translates to “Ancestral District”. But today people are on the move. We change jobs, cities, houses, even friends frequently. Even out parents move, so what remains of our childhood home? Just a fading memory? How shall we define ourselves in these times and how do we define the place that we call home without letting this term becoming an empty phrase for something like “temporary residence”?

As for myself, I have started to make home literarily “where my heart is”. That is my wife and my children. As long as I am together with them, I fell at home, and at peace with myself. Nevertheless I feel that every place on this planet where I have spent some time, where I felt attached, belongs to me and my life. In this respect there are many places that I could call home. Where ever we go, we leave a trace and that’s how it should be!