The Englishman and I were discussing nebulous things about the far off future and he happened to mention that his current home where he had lived for the past 5 years was the first place that had truly felt like home for him. Since 2004, he had moved pillar to post from the UK to Brazil to finally New Zealand. My reply to him was that I didn’t think he had moved as much as I had in the last 14 years and if you looked at my entire life, I had had a very footloose existence.
I had lived in 5 different houses around Colombo, Sri Lanka by the age of 8 when my parents moved us to Zambia where I lived for the next 3 years. I was then sent back to Kandy, Sri Lanka to live with my grandmother in house number 8 which was the first home my parents had actually owned. I lived there till I turned 20 when I started University and moved back to Colombo. There were 5 different temporary homes or boarding houses in that time until I moved to Rikillagaskada in the Central Hills to take up my teaching job the following year. I lived in two different places in that village and then moved back home for a year or two to start my Masters. When things got difficult at home I stayed with an aunt or uncle for a month or two.
My next job was in a Hanwella near Avissawella and that boarding house was house number 16. I moved back home to my parents again for a short while before taking up the job at Fonterra in 1997. In the next two years and a bit I lived in 4 different places. In January 2000 I moved in New Zealand. From then till October 2000 I lived in 3 different places around Auckland and then moved to Wellington on a job transfer where in the first year I lived in 4 different places. That was when I met former husband and after knowing him for a few short weeks, moved in together because I had just been made redundant from my job. It made sense from a financial point of view and in hindsight we should have taken our time in making a big decision like that. We first lived in his one bedroom flat which was in same building I had last been in and then a few months later moved into a nicer place on the Petone waterfront. House number 30 was the very first place that I owned, again in Petone; albeit jointly with my then husband. I lived there from December 2002 till March 2005; just over 2 years.
My husband’s unhappiness with his job prompted us to move to Auckland at that point where again in the first 6 months we lived in 3 different houses. We bought house number 34 in December 2005 when I was pregnant with Jacob. After an year there, we moved to Singapore on a job transfer and lived for week in a hotel, then moved into a Condominium near Jurong in the West.
I moved back to New Zealand in March 2008 into rental accommodation because none of the houses we owned were vacant for us to move into. Then I moved into the house we had bought just before leaving for Singapore in Papatoetoe, Auckland and lived there till July 2011, a total of 2 years and 3 months. That was house number 37.
I came to the sudden realisation that this house I am currently in; house number 38 is the longest I had stayed in one place in New Zealand. Two and a half years. So to the Englishman I want to say; you are lucky to have lived in a house you own for the past 5 years. I haven’t had that particular luxury since I was 20 and moved out of my parents’ home. And although this house is all mine and the Bank’s and no one else’s, it is not quite home. I thought to myself when I moved in that the only way I wanted to permanently leave this house was in a box and horizontally. But in reality I know I will have to move again, be it for the sake of Jacob’s schooling or starting a new life with the Englishman or some other yet unknown reason. And knowing that, I am afraid to put down roots only to have to pull them back up again. So I have never truly had a sense of home, a sanctuary, a place I belonged. I try not get too attached, because attachment will only make it more painful when I lose it yet again…..
In a corner of my heart there is yearning that one day I will find home…I think I have written before about how home is not a place, but a feeling. A feeling of safety and sanctuary. Of love and belonging. I have not found it yet, but there is still hope in my heart……