If you ask me where I’m from, I might have an answer I’m pretty sure is right. But if you ask me where “home” is, things get messy.
The thing is, I’ve moved around a fair bit – London, Stockholm, Oslo, Tokyo … – and I seem to find “home” wherever I go. And when I leave, a little piece of that place comes with me. After about six years on the road, as it were, I’ve become a sort of amalgam of all these places.
Here’s an example of how this amalgamity (is that a word?) expresses itself. This was post-Japan and I was living in a student corridor west of London. A guy I’d hardly spoken to came into the kitchen while I was cooking and sat down by the table. I believe we said hello and such pleasantries but not more. After a while (my soba noodles were cooking), he said, “Excuse me.”
“Have you spent any significant time in Asia?”
Slightly confounded at this seemingly random guess (I’d not mentioned my year in Tokyo to this particular flatmate, nor to the others if I can recall) I checked the texture of my noodles before answering, “Yes, but what makes you say that?”
He looked at me, then turned his eyes to the pot where I was stirring in the water. “Because,” he said, with a straight face, “because people don’t usually stir with chopsticks.”
Tokyo, that beloved city, will always be with me in spirit. It’s such a lovely and exciting place! If you get the chance, do go. And, please, say konnichiwa from me.