Hometowns & Homelands
I’ve lived my whole life trying to define my hometown. Richmond is now where I’ve spent the most amount of time, and where I’ve made my most defining memories and decisions. It’s the place I know the ins and outs of and a place I love to keep exploring. But is it home?
Having been born literally the day we arrived to the Slovenian refugee camps from Srebrenica, I spent my first three years of life there. Sharing the space with different families, learning my first words and walking my first steps in a place that was so foreign to my mom and sisters, but was all I knew.
My first memories I can remember are in Tuzla, Bosnia, when we returned through an underground system to be reunited with my dad (and no it’s not that easy to just “go back where you came from”). I made my first friends there and started school there and that’s my childhood.
When we immigrated to the US we all had to grow up so fast that that’s kind of what I consider the cut off point. I was still a child and of course childish, but it’s just different when you no longer can look to your parents to help you with school or you’re making their doctor appointments not the other way around. It’s been almost three years since my last time in Bosnia and I always get so emotional thinking about it.
I remember landing at the Sarajevo airport and looking out the tiny plane window and just getting choked up and crying before we landed. I still can’t describe it. The land is beautiful but that’s not what pulled at my heart strings. The air is so crisp and fresh but that’s not what took my breath away. It was just this overwhelming feeling that I was home. Even if I don’t know how to get to our house from the airport, even though it’s been years since I’ve been back, even though my Bosnian has gotten rusty over the years, my heart just knew, I was home. So no, I may not have a hometown that I can clearly define, but I have a homeland and that’s pretty special too.
Happy Birthday, Bosnia, let’s do 26 right! 🇧🇦💙💛