I had a question about a bowing stayed after the first rehearsal to ask our guest principal cellist. I knew that he and some of the others in the orchestra had flown just before yesterday's rehearsal from Vienna, because the office had had to reschedule the rehearsal to accommodate them. So after the bowing clarification I casually asked, "So you came from Vienna?" And he paused and processed and then slowly started, "Well actually I'm from Argentina. But my mother is Italian and my father is French. But I studied in Italy. With Navarra." And yes, he had come from Vienna, because that is where he lives.
My family has been situated, more or less, in the Ohio River Valley since around 1850 when they first came to America. Every time I return to America or Japan I have to readjust, I feel the distance between me and my home, I feel uprooted. I can't imagine what "grounding," or "roots," must mean to our guest principal cellist. I understand the pause he had before answering my question. How many languages did it have to pass through, how many questions of identity?
More and more I encounter people like this, or at least other people who are living away from their home. It is a tale unfamiliar to me from my own family experience. In my upbringing, "home," was always a fixed idea of location and people and way of living. How different it must feel for home to be so diffuse. Is it as undefined as I imagine? Is it liberating or confusing? How does such an implicit part of our upbringing shape the way we interact with the world? What other things are like this?