“E a onde você mora?”
“Não sabe? Como não sabe?”
On the drive from the airport to the hostel my friend and I were staying in in Salvador, the driver asked me one of the truest questions anyone ever has, and I gave him an answer that even I surprised myself with.
He asked, so where do you live? Now most people who have been outside of their respective home-bases might be more familiar with the question ‘where are you from?’ as am I. To which I respond with the no-brainer, Kenya. Even if by the end of this fellowship I will have spent the better part of 5 years outside of the country, I did spend 18 years growing up there- and that is definitely where I am FROM. But see, the driver asked me where I LIVE… And I told him I didn’t know.
Was it my home in Brasilândia that I had left the previous week after almost 3 months? Was it my home in Kenya where I had been for an inner-turmoil 1 month before beginning this fellowship? Was it my host-parents’ house in Wellesley where they graciously let me stay whenever I couldn’t stay on campus? Was it the various residences on Wellesley College’s campus that were my home for most of 4 years? Was it the various homestay families I lived with in São Paulo, Curitiba, Cape Town, Hà Nội during study-abroad? Was it the hostel I had recently vacated in Rio, or the one I was going to live in for a week in Salvador? That felt closer to the truth than anywhere else I could pick. And I realised that I don’t necessarily have one home, or one place I live. As did the driver because I then told him:
“Estava morando em São Paulo, mas agora não sei, estou viajando.” (I was living in São Paulo, but now I don’t know, I’m travelling)
“Ah então você mora em tudo mundo! (Riso) Isso e bom. Por que pode morar em qualquer lugar e sentir em casa.” (In that case you live all over the world! (laughter) that’s good because it means you can live anywhere and feel at home.)
And that is probably true- I live in many places and find that thanks to the people I meet and the experiences I have, I can make a home in most of these places.