The thing about home is that every person on the planet Earth defines it differently. Some define it as a place, you know the house where you live, where you probably grew up. For some it’s family. So it might be a place, it might be people. Who knows?
I was never the person who felt strongly about my “home country”. It’s not that I don’t have one, I was born and raised in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, and for most part I was happy. But I never had this strong feeling about “my country”, and then I left. I left Prague at the age of 17 for ten months. I exchanged middle of Europe for Canada. Ten months in Canada and I am a different person. Suddenly the term HOME has a whole new meaning.
I came to realize that home wasn’t a place, even though I thought so for quite a long time. When I left Prague I was sure I was leaving my home behind, but once I got to Montreal I didn’t feel that different. Yes I did cry when leaving my parents, even though I was good at hiding my tears, keeping them in control until I got on the plane, but I didn’t feel like I something big was missing. I missed my parents and my friends but I didn’t really miss the city that was supposed to be my home. So is home really a place? Do you have to have a pride in your “home country”?
The reason why I have been thinking about home lately is IIHF WORLDS, or in words the Hockey World Championship. Even before I left to Canada I wasn’t able to cheer for the Czech Republic. It’s not that I would wish the Czechs bad luck, but I just didn’t feel any strong connection to the team. When I got to Canada I started feeling about Canada as my “home country”. I felt like the environment that I got myself into accepted me for who I was and didn’t try to change me into something I didn’t want to be. Not quite the situation I was used to. In Prague I always felt like I had to prove myself to someone or that I had to justify my opinions, in Montreal I could just be. It was like being born again, getting a second chance at being YOU. And I grabbed that opportunity by the horns. I didn’t let any chance to be myself unnoticed, after several months I realized that it wasn’t just small moments I could be myself, I could just be myself, ALL THE TIME. And I fell in love. With the city, the people, the atmosphere, but mostly with myself, with the part of ME that had to be hidden when I was in Prague.
After coming back to Prague I felt joyous, coming home, being this new confident person, and it took literally a week for Prague to ruin that feeling. At school I would get into fights with teachers because they didn’t agree with what I had to say, and I think that’s the reason why I’m even here writing this blog. I just wanted to be heard, and in Canada I was heard. And I’m proud to cheer for Canada. Canada let me be who I wanted to be and for that I will always be grateful.
Now to what happened recently that made me write about this mythical term of home. After every match, or nearly every match, Canada played I would repost a picture from @hockeycanada stating the final score of the match, No harm in that, as would one think. Well that’s wrong. Unfortunately for me in the semifinals Canada played against the Czech Republic. And the match was somewhat controversial. Canada leading two nil, and the Czechs scoring a goal, that wasn’t counted, because apparently the scoring player was in the goalie field, or whatever it is called, So the match ended 2:0, and Canada went on to the finals. As usual I posted a pic on Instagram with the hash tag GoCanadaGo. I didn’t comment on Canada being better, or the goal being fairly declined, which I think is false, they should have counted the goal, or anything else about the match, just the hash tag. After couple of minutes this girl from my old high school class got all bitchy saying that I am real Canadian, and that I was going over the top with my pose. I didn’t understand what she was on about, but it honestly pissed me off. We weren’t really friends at high school and I don’t know her that much for he to know who I am or I’m not. But still yet again Czechs showed me that I will never be accepted here, because I tend to step out from the line. I blocked her and I have no intention of talking to her about this or anything else. But this uneasy feeling towards me for cheering for Canada didn’t end.
So the finals came and Canada was up against Russia. As a person whose parents grew up during communism and were against the regime I feel certain negativity towards Russians. So yet again I was cheering for Canada, and Canada won. I couldn’t be happier. I spend the whole match in my Canadian sweatshirt, as a proper fan. Accidentally I left the house in the sweatshirt today, because as the messy person I am, I couldn’t find anything else to wear. I got to my French class and the first thing my teacher said was “Ton sweat est une provocation contre les Tcheques, ou contre la Russia?” Basically accusing me of trying to rub Canada’s victory into everybody’s face, which let me just clarify I wasn’t. I was shocked, like this teacher is French, he doesn’t deny that, but he lives in Prague, and no one questions his position towards either France or the Czech Republic, but me I get questioned all the time. It isn’t my fault I don’t feel support in the Czech Republic, the country I was born and raised in, but I do feel support in Canada.
I have my second family in Canada. One of my closest friends is in Canada, and her mum is like my adoptive mum. Whenever I feel down and need help I text both my mums, my real mum here in Prague, a person who helped me become the person I am today and supports me in every single way possible, and my adoptive mum, who when lost three thousands miles away from my family substituted the feeling of belonging to a family, and by that becoming my family.
My “home country”, as the place where I was born and raised, will always be Prague, Czech Republic, but my “home country”, as the place where I will take refugee when lost, will always be Montreal, Canada.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that HOME is not a place, or people. For me HOME is a state of mind, a state of mind when you feel supported and understood. HOME can be one place, or it can be many places. Some people are lucky that they get support from their family and don’t have to go into the world looking for it, others have to look for it. But in the end it’s about how you feel. It isn’t about where you were born, or raised, or what your passport says, it’s always about how you feel. Don’t ever forget that, you have to love yourself, and when you do, you find your home.