Chapter 2 – No Homecoming No More

Posted: July 25, 2011 in Words In Progress

Ever since I can remember, I always knew I was out of place in the land I was born of. Yet, I never failed to notice a growing sense of pride, appreciation and wanting to belong in a country that time and again never ceases to amaze me and in an instant disowns me like I never belonged to begin with.

This piece was intended to be written a long time ago when I returned to Tampa after visiting India in 2010. When time didn’t permit, my thoughts took a backseat, but when I sat down to write today, I was surprised and saddened just a tad, if you will, at the intensity with which I remembered the relief that swept over me every time I reminded myself that I was only visiting and that three weeks was ample time for me to get back to the life that I had chosen over the birthplace that has now become a holiday destination.

When I landed in India in the heat of August 2010, the excitement was uncontainable. All I could think of was my house, my dogs, my Mum and the hot cup of tea I knew she would have ready every morning before I woke up. Soon enough though I realized that what was once my city, my nook, my niche was no longer really a reality. The landscape had changed so much. People, all of a sudden, had lives that prevented them from making the effort to do anything outside of routine. Friends now needed schedules and even when you met their time constraints, didn’t quite see the value in making an effort to grab a cup of coffee. The best friend, of course, who you had duly informed of your arrival seemed to have time for all else, but the quintessential, quite obviously, no longer best friend.

Money had, in fact, become a deciding factor in the things you did and the things you could do. A new class had risen its glorious head and had rained its wrath upon every memory of fun I had weighing down heavily in my head. In this old town with its new attitude, you didn’t go where you wanted to, you went where everybody else went and eventually, by some hypnotic slight of hand succumbed to the notion that that’s where you were headed to begin with. It was unfortunate to see so many take to this new mantra; I was somehow under the illusion that we had left such trivial non-ideals in the 10th grade. Clearly, I was mistaken.

There are, of course, some things that never change. The select few who you’re rarely in touch with, but who remain a part of your life for the rest of your life and will move mountains to spend a few hours with you  that make up for four years of time gone by. The family, who despite your individuality that drives them to discomfort, will still light up at the sight of your physical presence and welcome you with open arms. The air that no matter how many years later never flinches when you take it in.

Back to square one. The questions, the expectations and the advice. The consistent pressure of ‘don’t come back.’ Agree and there’s the instant counter-attack of having become American.

What I used to refer to as my house was in fact, now, my parents’ house. No doubt, I’m the only person who feels that way. But how not when everything seems to have changed so much; the United States was no longer the foreign land. Needless to say, my emotions about mine and my own are heavily conflicted. I would never give up the expression on my Mum’s face for an easier, less thought-provoking trip, but my mind can’t help but wander back to the days that were and are never to be again.

Clearly, life has changed. And with life’s changes, so have I and so have the people around me. This, of course, is true of any of life’s turns and no matter how long or how much I speak of it, there’s really no stopping change.

The tone of this blog in itself defies Chapter 1. My intentions when I began this blog were to tell a story, to take people through my memory on a journey of a journey. Not to philosophize. But putting thoughts down is my only resolve when I find them scattered and tangled within the world that lives inside my head.

One thing I have realized is that the cliche “home is where the heart is” is as true as they come. Today, my heart lives in Tampa and like I cried for Chennai when I left four years ago, one day I will cry for Tampa too. But as time passes, I will make another my home and give another my heart and then, Tampa too will become a ‘once upon a time’ story like so many other long, long agos that have made up this awkward existence I call my life.

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Comments
  1. rurero says:

    Sam that is awesome!!! It should be published beyond your Blog. When I read, “Ever since I can remember, I knew I was out of place …” I thought, yes, I understand, but after that phrase our experiences each went their own way. Keep writing, wherever you may go; you have a loyal reader and supporter right here — and guess what – I have tears in my eyes as I write this. LOL

    • samira obeid says:

      Ruth,
      Thank you for your kind words. I strongly believe that each person’s shared experience can have some valid effect on another’s. You’ve always read my work and I have always appreciated your commentary. As for the tears in your eyes, I’m speechless. Have a wonderful day!

  2. Arj says:

    terrific sammy!

  3. Don Lamison says:

    you are so very talented… Wow! 🙂

  4. PB says:

    Sam, I don’t know if you still update this blog but I just read this and I love it! You’re a very talented writer – keep writing! Also, everything you say in this piece is heart wrenchingly true – of course, I cannot pretend to know how you felt then, but I can definitely understand your ‘home is where the heart is’ philosophy and agree with it wholeheartedly.

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