It's now been roughly 19 months since I was back in the US. In that time I've spent the majority of it in the Kathmandu valley, but I've also made trips to Annapurna, several to Langtang & Everest, a stop over in Tibet, another in Bhutan, a holiday in Thailand & Cambodia, and most recently my short trip to Guangzhou in China. I've written a book that I wanted to write, I've stayed rather active on this blog, I've supplied the population of Kathmandu with salsa and other foods, and will be opening a restaurant some time this fall which has consumed most of my time and energy since the Spring. It has been an interesting few months to say the least.
About one week from when I'm writing this I will be landing in the US, at Boston's Logan airport to be precise. It's been a long time to go without seeing family and friends. Thanks to the blessings of technology like this blog, Facebook, e-mail and Skype I do get to regularly stay in contact with those from back home to varying degrees. But that whole notion of home is something that for me has been in flux for so long, I'm not entirely sure where it is. My Father joked with me on a recent Skype call that I had lived in Nepal now longer than most places that I had lived in the US, and I think that has some truth to it, but I felt obliged to point out that we also were already on our second apartment over here. A rolling stone gathers no moss I'm told.
Sometimes I have really vivid dreams, and most often when I find myself "home" it's in the place where I grew up in Portland. I haven't lived in that house since I was 19 years old (that's 15 years ago) and my family no longer even owns the house. Since going off to college I don't think I've spent more than two years in any one spot, the longest possibly being an apartment building that I split with a couple of friends right out of college. Since that time I've lived in basement apartments, traveled around the world, built a house, owned a duplex and of course lived in two apartments in Nepal along with a brief stay as a guest in a house here. Home has not had some enduring form.
So now as I get ready to travel back I often find myself fumbling for words. To say I'm going home isn't quite right, I don't plan on living in New England any time in the near (or perhaps distant) future, yet as comfortable as I have become with living in Nepal, I'm not sure that I can call this home either. Home as a concept varies significantly from person to person and stirs in people strong emotions. Just look how many human conflicts are fought over the beliefs of what land is a home to which people. Home encompasses the past by defining where we are from, or where our ancestors even came from, but just as often it is a concept of where we are going, where we will make our future and where we hope to put down roots. So what, or more accurately where, is home for me? I'm not entirely sure, but it's somewhere between my past and my future.