Not many people know, but my masters’ dissertation was mostly about what it means to feel at home and on processes of home-making, with a focus on refugee integration which doesn’t however want to exclude anybody from the conversation. Since working on that, I’ve been thinking a lot about what home is for me: I can’t say I’ve figured it all out quite yet, but I’ve noticed it takes me an average of exactly two months to feel at home in a new place.
Today marks the end of my second month in Amman and yes, I do feel at home and very much so. It may be because I have visited a few places in Jordan and I now find that I sort of know my way around: Ajloun, Madaba and Mount Nebo, Wadi Hasa, Karak, Petra, Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea above and below, Bethany, Jerash, and of course tons of little fun places in Amman itself are now all inextricably linked to marvellous memories in my mind and this undoubtedly contributes to my attachment to this country. My progress in Arabic is certainly also a factor (hooray for the best teachers I could possibly ever dream of!!!), as is my growing love for calligraphy through the optional course I’m taking.
In the end though, if I had to make one guess about why I feel So. Unbelievably. At home. here, I know what I would say: it’s the people, the fantabulous friends I met from Jordan, France, Italy (perché no?), Ukraine, Palestine, the US; the above-mentioned wowtastic teachers and my awesome classmates, who make every weekday morning happy; my beloved housemates; the Jordanian friend of a friend of a friend who met me yesterday for the first time to do a language exchange, the taxi drivers (or at least some of them!), shop assistants, and even just the hairdresser who gave me my shortest haircut since 1996 yesterday afternoon. It’s the generosity, the kindness, the altruism I’m surrounded by every single moment.
So maybe this is what I wanted to say, when I started writing this post with a bunch of disorderly thoughts playing about in my head: it’s ok not to want to live in the Middle East, it’s ok not to want to even visit it. But it is wrong to assume that it is all the same, or that it is all bad, and it is very very wrong to think that what we hear and read on TV or on the internet in our preferred language be a complete and fair representation of it and -especially- its people. It might be a banal thought; I just wanted to reinforce it… because I care about my home