Anywhere can become “home”, if you let it

I remember being a child in Abu Dhabi, sitting in the back seat of my dad’s car and seeing a white pickup truck carrying a palm tree. At the time, palm trees alone were a mystery to me, a young girl whose family had only just moved to the UAE from Bulgaria.

Before this, I had been used to seeing enormous green trees on Sofia’s streets. In fact, I had been used to tripping over their roots as they’d shape and reshape the city’s sidewalks. Growing up with these images in my mind, I could not understand how I could possibly be looking at a palm tree neatly wrapped up and placed at the back of a pickup truck.

Roots of a tree forming cracks in asphalt
Source: Arseny Khakhalin, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As all children do when they need answers to what is unthinkable, I turned to my parents.
“Is that a palm tree?” I asked.
Yes, it is. They are driving it away to transplant it in a new place,” my mum explained with ease.

My dad nodded in agreement and kept driving as though the words coming out of my mum’s mouth were normal. Meanwhile, my seven-year-old mind was blown. I simply could not understand how you could uproot something as big and strong as a TREE, let alone force it into new soil. Not surprisingly, I was unaware that what I had seen was a perfect analogy.

Seeing that I had not understood its message when I was that young, the universe sent me another one many years later. At this point, I was 22 years old and trying my hardest to adjust to living in Bulgaria after spending most of my life elsewhere.

I remember visiting an older woman I viewed as somewhat of an aunt and crying to her, saying I could not adapt to my new life. Doing the best she could, she advised me to allow myself to put down some roots. Thinking she could not understand what I was feeling, I reiterated that growing roots felt absolutely impossible in my current situation.

The next day, I received a text message from her: “You will not believe what I saw outside my doorstep this morning!”

This message was followed by a picture of a tiny flower that had sprung up straight from the concrete.

My phone pinged again and a second message came through: “It is up to us where we choose to put down roots.”

Although I originally intended to write an article on coping with homesickness, the writing process took me elsewhere. Frankly, I believe there is more to learn from these two analogies than there would have been from an article titled “5 ways to cope with homesickness”. For this reason, I will leave you here, with this:

Dear reader, we are much stronger than we think. 
Just like the little flower and the great palm tree, we can adjust and endure no matter our environment.   

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