30 November 2008

on being European

People on first meeting often ask where I am from. A difficult question to answer, or rather a complex answer is required. "Where are you from?" rather than "What nationality are you?" or "Where were you born?" or "Where do you live?" implies a sense of belonging to one location not the current one and maybe even being homesick, i.e. having a home one longs to go back to. I usually don't feel that I have such a home. So the answer usually runs along the lines of: born in Germany, lived in the UK for twenty-odd years, most recently living in x, part of my itinerant life as a corporate wife. Not a short answer by any means.

But the more I travel and live in assorted countries the more I realize where my heritage (although definitely not my home - that is a whole other blog post) is. There is nothing more comfortable to me than walking down some old cobbled street in Stockholm or enter a museum in Paris, find a cafe in Edinburgh or book a hotel room in Amsterdam. I haven't spent any significant amount of time in any of those cities, never lived in those countries, but it still feels easier than locating an rating place in Dubai or a shop in Joburg. Europe is my history, my point of reference, my yardstick however much I think of myself as a World citizen. Really I am just a European.

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