Somewhere We Belong

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By Daniel Chou
Cover photography by Wonho Frank Lee
Dec 01, 2016 | min read
Part of 50: Homeland
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MY PARENTS MOVED to Maryland seven months after they got married. Fresh out of his doctorate program, my dad was connected by his mentor to two possible job opportunities — one in San Francisco and one in Maryland.

Because they didn't know anyone in Northern California at the time, and because my dad had relatives in Maryland, they chose the latter.

But it was especially tough on my mom. She left her siblings — all seven of them and their families were still living in Southern California at the time — to make the cross-country trek with my dad. Her only solace was that the contract was for two years; the plan was to return to California after it ended. 

Next year, my dad will celebrate his 30-year anniversary of working for the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

And my mom will have talked about moving back to California for 30 years. We'd talk about where we'd live and how we'd afford living in a rising housing market. Our annual pilgrimages there were glimpses of a life that we all wanted but couldn't live just yet.

Move back to California — that was always the plan.

But during a season in my life where I was particularly attached to Maryland and could not think of living anywhere else, I remember asking my mom, "What would moving mean with all your relationships here? Our church? Our friends? You're just going to leave all of that?"

"Home is home."

I felt frustrated. Why not just move back and do whatever it took to make it happen? Why bother with relationships and people and communities here in Maryland, if we were going to leave it all anyway? 

Why bother with relationships and people and communities, if we were going to leave it all anyway? 

I look back now and it seems like an oddly familiar Bible passage about laying down roots, building houses, and planting gardens. About having daughters and sons, and finding husbands and wives. But also a passage about not forgetting home — and waiting to finally be brought back.

The concept of home is a complicated one. For some, it's tied to a specific time and place. For others, like my mom, it's tied to particular loved ones.

Though where we call home may change from time to time, may you live your lives and do the same — build relationships. Do wonderful things. But remember, this isn't your home.

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Daniel Chou

Daniel Chou (he) serves as the editor-in-chief of Inheritance and is also one of the magazine’s founders. He holds a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. Outside of Inheritance, he is co-founder of Winnow+Glean and enjoys roasting coffee. He posts sporadically on Instagram @dchou and even more sporadically on Twitter @danielchou.

Wonho Frank Lee

Wonho Frank Lee is a freelance photographer who primarily shoots for Eater LA and recently received his MFA from Cal State LA. Follow him on Instagram @WonhoPhoto.

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