On home and family

The Qu’ran mentions in many parts the importance of family, of treating parents and spouses with dignity and respect. About a thousand kilometers stand between me and most of my family members, which on a daily basis is not a bad thing but once in a while it is great to find yourself surrounded by those who love you dearly. 
I recently travelled to visit my mom in my hometown for her birthday. I had a love-hate relationship with my mom, my town and my extended family for most of my life, in no small part due to my strong opinions and my stubborn desire to stand up to authority. I recently converted to Islam and I don he hijab daily, I was nervous at the idea of bringing my new faith and my new style to a place that has been less than kind to me over the years. I dragged my boyfriend along for a well-deserved vacation and for moral support.
They say home is where the heart is, well, I realized this week that my heart was never in the right place before. Growing up in my hometown I felt secluded, rejected, unloved and I longed for a place of acceptance.Visiting it this week brought me a new perspective. Most of those who troubled me as a child have moved on — I assume to troubling others. Those who were left behind are mainly irrelevant, irrelevant in meaning that they were not meaningful to the years of pain I lived through, and with my man by my side, I felt they were invisible.
My mother and I have long ago mended our broken relationship troubled by mistrust and misguided kindness; we learned through experience to love and care for one another in ways which are both productive and effective.
Remained my extended family. I often feel like it would take a miracle for me to live up to their expectations to which they hardly live up to themselves. My superhero boyfriend helped me there once again, whether it was keeping it cool when an uncle asked what is job was “if he even has a job” or holding my hand in sympathy when a cousin asked sarcastically if my hijab was a new city trend.
I realize today that I chose what “home” means to me. My mother, my boyfriend, the ocean front of my hometown, that is my definition of “home”. While I can’t always have all three at once, I can live knowing that either of these is at proximity and live with the comfort that one way or another, I can always “come home”.
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