A third culture or cross cultural child, or a child who is constantly on the move, is a child who learns to never look back and to concentrate on adapting to the new place, as I’ve written about in earlier posts.
A few people have told me that they have traveled to the house or apartment where they have lived once, even asked to look inside. I’ve understood the need, especially if it has been a childhood home, but it has puzzled me some. One thing is that I would probably struggle to find the houses I have lived in. Another thing is that I have moved too many times to have any mental bonds to a house, though I know in retrospect that I have liked some houses better than others, and I can think of these “good” houses fondly. Yet I haven’t had any place I’d call childhood home, or a house that has given me any sense of home. They are just houses.
I have experienced that memories can be triggered through smells or views of certain landscapes more than a house. When I was still a student, I went back to the country in East Africa where I was born. I still remember the moment when I came out of the aero plane. A wall of warm air hit me and smells flowed over me. The strange part was that it was familiar smells and it made me feel home.
It was on this travel I visited a house I have lived in and moved from, mostly because we just passed. We didn’t stay or ask to look inside. I didn’t feel connected to the place. I was after all probably just two or three when we lived there. But what still sticks in my mind from this return is a wall full of roses. My mother loved roses and would always plant roses at places we lived. Here the house owners hadn’t kept it up, so the roses had claimed the wall decades later, now growing wild and magnificent. To me it was weirdly symbolic and a sign of life’s movements, but also a sad feeling of decay at a place that had been a home once.