I belong to two different worlds. One I call home, the other I call homeland.
It is very difficult to be split up between two places, especially when the main force behind it is either economical, social or circumstantial. The heart gets left behind and the soul struggles to belong. Twenty six years ago when I first migrated, the world seemed so vast, the distances between continents so far and I, well I felt so tiny, so minuscule, so small and so lost.
The language, culture, lack of friends, climate, freezing cold oceans and cereals for breakfast, all seemed so alien to me. I was literally feeling as if I was truly living in the bottom part of the globe, hanging upside down.
I tried very hard to stomach fruity yoghurt, the first one I sampled was peach flavoured. “Sweet yoghurt! This is absurd and unheard of. It is not yoghurt, it is not a dessert, it is something in between that should not exist”. I forced myself to eat it because I was told it was good for me, just as I tried to start my day with cereals and pasteurized fresh milk. Ours was mostly powdered which I never drank, or it came fresh from a cow, sheep or goat. I did not drink that either unless it was cooked or turned to yoghurt, which in that form I absolutely loved.
It didn’t take me long to give up on the cereal ” I don’t care how good these are for me, I am going back to labne, olives and zaatar, thank you very much Australia, please understand I am not ungrateful, but your cereal leaves me feeling hungry and a bit nauseated”. Today I know that cereals are mostly packed with either sugar, salt, preservatives, colourings, you name it. So today I make an informed choice not to consume it. My ancestors knew what was good for them after all.
Today, I also no longer feel as if I am living down under, in the bottom part of the globe. I live on top and the world has gotten so much smaller. I still do not drink milk because I never liked the taste of it but I also now know that I do not tolerate it well. My body also knew what was good for it after all.
In my homeland, I float and drift away in the warm Mediterranean sea. I soak in all the warmth of town folks who belonged to the same piece of land for hundreds of years. Their grandfathers grew the olive trees welcoming you to their homes and hearts. Their mothers invite you in for meals and when bread is broken between us, then friendships never will.
In my home, I cherish each day as I walk down the beach, feeling golden grains of sand under my feet. I catch a cool breeze as I inhale the freshness of being free. I take great joy in discovering new eateries and sharing meals with friends who have welcomed me into their hearts and lives. We invite one another to explore the many cultures and cuisines that unite us all.
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