Thoughts of a Local Foreigner

It has been 17 years to the day since I arrived in Austria, this peculiar place that can’t decide whether it wants to move forward with the times or remain in a perpetual state of rewind. 

I was 17 at the time. Half a life here, half a life in another somewhere. 

I can be a foreigner in three languages and pretend to belong in just as many. I came into this world a foreigner and somehow have remained so, at first by circumstance, now by choice. 

I have worked my way along the road like a spy, buying identities by imitation, breathing in sounds and playing mirror to faces of all kinds. 

I have learnt that some places are more eager to become a home than others. Some cities let you become part of their local colour, others will only let you join in if you paint with the right shade. 

Vienna has been kind to me, and it is undoubtedly a sort of home. But even after half a lifetime I know I am not a thread of this particular cloth, even though I’m free to cloak myself with it as I wish. And it is alright. 

Home is not the ground under my feet, but the sky over my head. Mine is the life of a passer-by who just happened to linger on for days and months on end. Home is what lies around the bend, and the warm faces that peek out from behind doors and windows with a welcoming smile. 

Home is nowhere and everywhere. Not-belonging is also a home. Mine. And I plan to keep it that way. 

E.S.

 

29.08.2019

2 comments

  • Paul

    Paul Dirndltal

    Hey Emily, Beautifully written essay. I have also spent the vast majority of my life far from the place I was born. Leaving Plymouth in the SW of England at the tender age of five, I have lived, gone to school and worked on various continents, finally moving from Tokyo to Vienna to live and work in 1989. I have been asked, and for that matter have asked myself many times, where is home? Well all I can come up with is, is that it‘s the people around you that make a place a home. What would paradise be without someone to share the experience with? At the end of his life Robin Williams once said; „I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone!“ and with that i wish you many more years surrounded by people who make you feel at home. Love to you and yours, Paul

    Hey Emily, Beautifully written essay. I have also spent the vast majority of my life far from the place I was born. Leaving Plymouth in the SW of England at the tender age of five, I have lived, gone to school and worked on various continents, finally moving from Tokyo to Vienna to live and work in 1989. I have been asked, and for that matter have asked myself many times, where is home? Well all I can come up with is, is that it‘s the people around you that make a place a home. What would paradise be without someone to share the experience with? At the end of his life Robin Williams once said; „I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone!“ and with that i wish you many more years surrounded by people who make you feel at home. Love to you and yours, Paul

  • Luis Diego Soto

    Luis Diego Soto Costa Rica

    Very insightful and meaningful essay! 17 years... long time for a young wonderful woman. May life continue surprising you, and home may live in your heart!

    Very insightful and meaningful essay! 17 years... long time for a young wonderful woman. May life continue surprising you, and home may live in your heart!

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