The Invisible Line

Every place is foreign, until it becomes home. That home may change every so many years, but the way each place becomes home follows the same pattern. When you first arrive somewhere new, everything is foreign, strange and intimidating. The house has strange sounds you still aren’t used to; the streets look so daunting; a new school seems like a labyrinth. You don’t know how to find you way around the buildings, let alone the neighborhood, and emotions are raw. Every obstacle seems insurmountable and every struggle seems impossible to overcome.

Then, little by little, you start to find your way around. You understand how to find the room you’re looking for in school; you start to recognize the streets; the once strange sounds in the house are now familiar and even comforting. Suddenly, as if by magic, this foreign land became home. You never actually realize when you cross that invisible line, but one day it dawns on you that it’s felt like home for a while. That day when you’re the one helping a new student find their way around. The day when someone asks you for directions and you have no trouble telling them how to get there. The day when someone working at the local coffee shop or ice-cream store recognizes you and remembers you as a regular customer. The day when the local kids all wave to you as they pass by on their bicycles…

It’s when those days come along that you realize how easily and quickly you forget the disorientation of those first weeks. You forget how lost you felt and how foreign everything looked. You forget how scared you were and how you wondered if you would ever be able to adapt or settle in here. You forget until you have to do it all over again. But, as hard as it is every time, you know you’ll make it.

You always have.

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15 thoughts on “The Invisible Line

  1. Great post! I have moved a lot so this really speaks to me. But after a while, I found that I ended up craving that disorentation of uprooting and starting again in a new place.

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    1. Thank you, I’m happy you could relate – I always love hearing from someone with similar experiences. I know what you mean about wanting that feeling – part of me likes to be more settled in and not have to think about changing again, but the other part of me gets a little restless and looks forward to figuring it all out again in a new place. I think a lot of expats, TCKs and people who move frequently feel the same way…at least a lot of the ones I’ve spoken with!

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  2. Nicely put. I remember a couple of months ago when I walked into one of the pubs in my neighborhood and the bartender said my name and hello. I felt at home. Now London doesn’t seem as big and intimidating.

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    1. Thanks for your comment – I love hearing/reading about people’s experiences! I’m glad London’s feeling more like home 🙂 I remember when we first moved to Paris (I was 15 at the time), and I thought I would never find my way around or know how to use the metro/trains…Then suddenly it all seemed so easy and second nature, without even realizing when that change happened. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Robin! I’m really happy you could relate to this. That’s one of my favorite things about blogging – sharing something and finding that others know how it feels; it’s a special bond 🙂

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  3. Well-written as usual, Dounia … I like the title too. I certainly felt this way when we moved across the country. Your blog posts are like little essays that highlight bits and pieces of life that most people probably wouldn’t even think about. They’re wonderful!

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    1. Your comment means much more to me than you can imagine, Paige. I love thinking that what I write can reach out to people and that they can find something to relate to, because I just write what’s in my heart and on my mind. I’m so happy that you enjoyed this post and that you could relate to it – as I said in my comment to Robin, that’s definitely one of my favorite things about blogging! Thank you again for your very kind words! 😀

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      1. You’re welcome … I think it is really interesting that so many experiences and feelings are universal, no matter what our backgrounds. I’m sure that you and I come from very different places, and you are much younger than I am …. yet what you write is totally relatable (is that a word?) and I know exactly what you’re getting at. You just say it much better than I ever could! 🙂 Keep doing what you’re doing!

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  4. You are so right — home takes a while to become home. I’ve moved a lot, and though it doesn’t get easier, the unfamiliar becomes more familiar, if that makes sense. 🙂 Twice now, I’ve been somewhere for three years or longer, and for me, that seems to be the magic mark. The point at which I can find a light switch in the dark, or wake up and expect to see the view in front of me. Find my way around, and in and out of town. It’s a challenge, and you expressed it beautifully.

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind comment. 🙂 What you said definitely makes sense. I’m not sure if I have a ‘magic mark’ as you put it, since I’ve been in some places as short as 2 years, and the longest I’ve lived somewhere was 10-11 years…there’s a different way of adapting and settling in when the time lengths are so different. I’m happy you could relate to this post though, and that you stopped by to comment 🙂

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