This series of favorite quotations were first posted to my old blog last March 21, 2011.
Quoted by Edward Said in Orientalism:
“The man who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign land.” — Hugo of Saint Victor (12th century mystic)
The alternative version, as paraphrased by Carlos Fuentes in Constancia and Other Stories for Virgins:
Being satisfied with remaining in one’s homeland and feeling comfortable there is the first stage in a man’s development; feeling comfortable in many countries is the next stage; but perfection is attained only when a man feels exiled in any part of the world, no matter where he goes.
I will never claim to know perfection but I certainly feel like a stranger all the time. In the past six months I have been in three different countries. I felt like the tourist when I was in Auckland, New Zealand; I was bumbling and awkward in Oakland despite the presence of family. In its pursuit of the eternal facelift, Manila managed to change bits of its external landscape while my back was turned. Familiar landmarks were razed and some favorite stores disappeared. Even on a psychological level, the subtle differences were bewildering.
There will never be another home again. I haven’t left and I already know this to be true.