Our family just came back from a spring break vacation in Jordan. Floating in the Dead Sea, wandering the ruins of Petra (remember the temple in Indiana Jones and the Last Cruisade?), and a night in the desert at a Bedouin camp were the highlights of our trip.
Whenever we got asked where we are from, my 11-year-old son would pipe up “Lebanon.”
It is a much easier answer, of course, than “My mom is from Seattle, my dad is from Rome, I was born in New York and my sister in Ecuador.” (Not to mention that although the kids haven’t spent longer than a vacation in either the US or Italy, they are citizens of both.)
But given our mediocre Arabic skills, the Jordanians were never quite convinced by “I’m from Lebanon.”
When my son was a toddler and my husband and I were embarking on this itinerant lifestyle, a colleague gave us some sage advice. “You will always feel that Italy and the US are ‘home,’ but your kids won’t feel that way. For them, wherever you are will be home. So make it home for them. Settle in. Ship the important things from place to place. Don’t always talk about your home country as if it is home for the kids as well. Let your country of residence be home.”
I realized that my son’s response showed just how settled in he feels in Lebanon. At home.
And I thought about the desert Bedouins, making their home in a tent under the stars, moving it as needed to keep their goats or sheep near food and water. Our children are like the Bedouins – with souls prepared to wander and travel, but making each stop home.
Near the end of the trip a Lebanese friend sent me a Facebook message: “I wish you a safe journey home. (Lebanon, I hope you call Lebanon home.)”
It’s clear my son does. And I realized that I do too.
Jordan was an amazing trip. But returning to Lebanon, it felt good to come home.