Ten years ago I had lived in 3 different countries and moved homes 14 times. I was starting to think about leaving Israel for yet another country in hopes to find what I had been looking for my whole life — the feeling of home. As my plans started to formalize I realized that moving will not bring me closer to a home. I would continue to float like a leaf in the wind without an anchor to pull it down, able to pack up and leave at any given moment. For the first time, I began to embrace the fact that I did not have roots anywhere, and that no place will be home. It would have to be something I built and nurtured inside of me. I was ready for the change. To symbolize this moment, I got a tattoo of a turtle that I drew, a turtle that carries its home on its back.
In an interesting twist of fate, I will be spending my birthday in Tortuguero. Tortuguero is a beach on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica accessible only by boat, mostly a nature reserve, where turtles come to shore to lay their eggs, and then, months later, baby turtles hatch and immediately make a run for the water. Pretty symbolic, I would say, to be celebrating my birthday in this place, when I am living out of my backpack, from hostel to hostel, country to country and again, without a home.
My life, at almost 37, is nothing like I had imagined it, and yet, it truly and honestly feels mine. I have been to places I have loved and places I have hated. I have had amazing highs and horrid lows. I have met good people that have come and gone, and I have made sure to hang on to the best of that batch. I have also met not so good people, some I was smart enough to not let in and others I have had difficultly to push out. I have surrounded myself with love that I give and love that I get and I am grateful for the opportunity for both. I am as close to mid-life as I have ever been and that has been the root of so much anxiety these last couple of days. There is still so much to see, so much to learn, so many people to talk to, so many experiences to share. How can I grow older when I am just getting started? I fit no image of a 37 year old version of myself and that frightens me.
I have no idea what my future holds but I think that today I can finally say, I know what home is. And it is strong enough to allow me to fly away for so many months and still know that it is there to come back to. Turns out, as I learned yesterday, turtles too know how to come back to one place after having drifted for decades and find the exact spot where their next chapter begins.