Illustration: Sheri Kim

Home: a simple word that can make you feel a rush of emotions. For most, hearing the word brings back memories of playing in the backyard with siblings and then being lured back into the house by the smell of freshly baked cookies. But when I think of home, I think of an airplane. 

I was born in Houston, Texas. Before I was even a year old, my journey started. In 2001, my parents moved my two older brothers and I to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a place I only know today through pictures and stories shared over the dinner table.

In 2002, not too long after my younger sister was born, my parents decided to move to Jeddah, another city in Saudi Arabia, for the many job opportunities there. We lived there for about seven years and welcomed a new addition to the family, my youngest brother. Then, my parents decided that Saudi Arabia was no longer the best place for raising five children and once again, we packed our bags, moving to Toronto, Canada.

After being moved around so much, the question was no longer an if—it was when and where. 2010 came with a new home, this time all the way back to the Middle East. After only a year of living in Toronto, my father received a better job offer in Amman, Jordan. I remember being excited about moving to Amman because of the amount of family we had there. Every weekend was spent at either a relative’s house, or outdoors picnicking in the middle of nowhere. I loved it. Surrounded by loved ones, I finally felt as if I belonged. When my dad sat us down again and told us that we were moving back to Toronto, I remember being in utter shock. I was not prepared leave everyone behind, to start the cycle all over again.

In 2011, we came to Toronto and finally settled down. I was in sixth grade then, and though I had many friends from the last time we were here, time and my experiences had created distance between my friends and I. Acceptance, however, was never my main concern. I was constantly fearing that my father would gather us once again and announce our next move

Life in Canada began terribly; I lost my grandfather that year, and was unable to attend his funeral. Yet over time, I got used to how things worked and eventually got over the fact that I would miss aspects of my former life. I knew that dwelling over the past wouldn’t do me any good, and would simply make me sad.

Because I was moving so often, I questioned my identity and struggled with the concept of home; my home was everywhere, yet nowhere. Am I American, Canadian, Arabian, or Jordanian? Does our identity depend on where we were born, or where we were raised? Should our identity even be attached to a place? After a period of turmoil, I came to the conclusion that home isn’t necessarily a physical place, but it’s wherever I feel comfortable and loved. My home is where my loved ones are. No matter where I am, as long as I’m with them, I am home.