Joëlle Simeu

I haven’t seen my father in over a couple years now. Growing up he would return to visit us in the States, but after 8th grade, I figured it was best not to make a home out of him. He came, once a year, never more than 2 or 3 weeks at a time and I would pretend that his absence during those other 340-something days did not bother me. The kids at school had parents that came to watch their basketball games—but my father never got a chance to watch me play. He missed my jump shots, and also when I was crowned homecoming queen. He never got to see me in my prom dress or hear my speech at graduation. But I had convinced myself that it didn’t matter to me. It’s harder to miss a home that is foreign to you.

When he called from oceans away, I gave him only good news: “Yes, I’m doing fine.” “School went well today.” “Of course, I made all A’s this semester.” “Everything is going well.” I never lied. Though I never told all of the truth either. But life has a way to force you towards the truth.

If my father is the home I never got many opportunities to enter, my mother is the home I built out of fear of belonging to no one. I tended to her. Primed myself to her liking—I wanted to give her reason to place me near the sunflowers in her gardens which she watered so much. I never came home with dirty shoes in fear that she would not let me in. She always did. She loved me; Gave me kisses and chocolates—and always knew which one I needed more than the other. But when she uprooted herself, and headed back to Cameroon, she left me homeless once more.

I realized the other day that I have been wandering all this time, with no home. I wonder if the country I left 11 years would still embrace me. Americanized as I am. I seem never to know where to go. These United States do not feel like a home.

So, I stay a foreigner estranged from my native roots and rejected by the home in which I currently reside in. I don’t know how other people do it: make homes out of people, that is. This vacillation, this want for a place, a person, a country who would claim me has made me dizzy, and in want of a place I can call as my own. But until then, I’ll be stumbling through the dark, searching for a way back home.