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.