The sea is dark blue and choppy, and the bright golden sun rays filled the air with warmth and a sense of renewal as the temperature stays at the low 50s (10 C) this morning. I paid extra attention to the surrounding today for some reason and I even took a deep breath to take it all in of the smell and sound of the dry desert, appreciating the mediteranean beauty of this place, which come July, will be a year I've move up here. I drove up and below turning head to see joggers enjoying the warmer weather of spring, making their way through as I stepped on the accelerator to go up the hilly greens to exit on a freeway back to my apartment, wondering if this is it? A place I will call home? Or is it just another phase until I move again?
24 hours prior to that, I was reminding myself of where I came from. Hushby and I were talking about highschool, and we joked as we goof around to all the cheesy 90s love songs most girls listen to, like Michael Learns to Rock, Spice Girls, Boyzone and Backstreet Boys. We sang and mumble the chorus of those songs at the same time reminding ourselves they call it, the good ol' days. Around the same time, I also spoke to another oversea friend on the phone who also, and as always with old friends, we often discuss about the good ol' days. The song "25 Minutes" resurfaced and I had such a good laugh and even louder only if my jaw would allow. She then asked me, if I call America my home. For a second, I didn't have to think what the lyrics were or the title of the songs, I know exactly just how to answer that question but I know she would not be satisfied for what she was about to find out.
As much as I would love to call this place my home where I feel comfortable and that I belong here, I don't. Do I call Malaysia my home then? Again as much as I want to, I do not.
I remember returning to Malaysia 2 years ago for my wedding which was the most enjoyable trip I've ever made. The moment I walked in the arrival hall with an oily jet-lag face, I saw my parents standing outside the hall waving and smiling at me, and the instant blast of humid air rush through my skin, instantly felt like home to me. Everything seem to fall in place at first, having family and friends around was the best feeling in the whole world. You get excited, suddenly everyone surround you with so much love, all have their own curiosity in mind as you share updates and how life has been for the years you've been away. The feeling of being wanting to be together were aroused, arrangement for outtings were set and the love keep pouring until 1 month later...
Everyone return to work. Your mom and dad return to work. Your siblings go back to school and your cat goes back to the corner and sleep. You're sitting in the living room by yourself at noon, with no car and friends available to keep you accompany. You don't know where is it again was the best place to hang out, which lane again you were suppose to drive on? Or how to dress again as you want to avoid wanting the locals to call you "saltwater dipped" regarding you a foreigner, hence hiking up the price as you go bargaining. Plus now that I suddenly begin to own a look, many claimed ABC (American-Born Chinese), doesn't help either! That's when you start to question, do I belong here anymore? One day of that is fine, but as months pass by, you struggle to not feel kind of like a weed, a dandelion so pretty at first but it will only turn to dust in no time. At that point, I just want to go back to the US, where I thought was home.
Upon stepping into the American border here in LAX, and as visa holder in which they still call us immigrant or alien, I still have to be in the long lines of immigration department, preparing myself as I'm up for questions. I would then be interrogated pertaining my reason to visit Malaysia and what I bring from there? Then I wait for maybe another 4 hours, in many case, I miss my next flight back to Minnesota (which I don't have to worry about anymore) which can cost me all in all, another day of precious time resting and sleeping in my own place, just to only have the officers chop my passport and get it back.
Then when I return to an apartment I've lived the whole time before a dream vacation to Malaysia, well for a weird reason, things kind of fall into place also but as instant as I feel that, the emptiness set in. The life and the cheerful gestures no longer greet you at the door. The smell of tropical plants and the cat poop by the compound no longer welcomes you in. Then because I was beginning to come down with homesickness, I dig into the fridge hoping to smell a tropical fruit or some sort of Malaysian cuisine to ease some of the 'pain' but it always fail. To only resort to curl up on the couch and meditate.
So where is home? Neither place to me. I guess home is where my family is. Wherever they are, that's where my home is. I can't say for sure I'll feel at home if my family happen to be in Antartica but I will sure feel comfortable and secure the moment I set foot into where they live.
I drove over the bright green hills overlooking well built, blonde surfers floating on the ocean, waiting for the next wave to ride, and where they sprinkle white foamy sea water into the air that so slightly hit onto my wind screen as I passed by unnoticed on the coastline of Dana Point. As I made a right turn heading on Del Obispo to Golden Lantern, joggers continue to run on the road like it's still Easter on Wednesday. Back to my place here in the Laguna area, the pine trees swaying as strong wind from the sea keep testing its flexibility, little birds flew by chirping aloud by the courtyard and as I parked my car on the allocated space under a shady roof where pines scattered throughout, thinking if anyone would have spy me and witness all that pass me by, they'll swear left and right if they know that I am still reluctant to regard this place my home.
In some ways, I do feel super lucky to be here, but lucky is no longer what I aim for, secure and comfortable is what I need for being away this long. I don't feel comfortable just yet, to claim this place my home. I still feel like a visitor on a visa or a temporary worker who is on site to survey. An old friend just emailed me asking where I am actually living now as she is coming over to LA for work, and that's exactly when I felt I needed a tour guide to show her around because I can't take any pride of what Orange County has to offer. A familiar face coming from afar always try to seek comfort through me because of the conception that I should know my way around after being here for years, in which I do know but only to survive. What they do not know is, I'm still in the process to be localized.
As much as I am thankful to have an opportunity to experience some can only envy, I will have to wait and see before claiming this is my home. Where's home to you then?