Monday 4 March 2013

Finding Home by Helen Yee

I grew up in the suburbs, in a predominantly white community and from the beginning I never felt I fit in. The taunting and comments about my Asian features, or my glasses, or being a “brain” cleaved within me a rift of otherness that was never to be soothed in the full comfort of belonging, feeling at home among my peers in the town I grew up in.

Those early conclusions that I’d never fit in didn’t make me completely miserable, but they have been annoying, muddy footprints trailing me in too much of my life experience. You may have heard that childhoods like this create people with a different point of view on the world, and maybe these odd ducks are more likely to become artists and creatives. At times I found a small corner of comfort in this idea, but mostly I still wanted an expansive yet enveloping feeling of home that I imagined everybody else just automatically had.

These days I feel I’m almost home but not quite there yet. From where I stand I can look back at the voyage I’ve taken, each step leading me closer and closer to knowing the nirvana I sought. I moved away from the hometown, met interesting and open-minded people at university, moved to a large and diverse city where I could blend in, met new friends, found some artistic communities that welcomed me. And after a long time I also found love. A friend once asked me what this kind of love feels like. My answer: “It feels like home in a person.”

Yes, most of the time I know my life is really good, and I’m grateful for true love, great friends, interesting and fun creative projects, talented collaborators, and a cozy and welcoming apartment in a fabulous city where people can be who they want to be. Yet those old muddy footprints continue to haunt me. If I’m still not feeling completely at home where will I find it?

I think I’ve already looked everywhere around me so now I’m left with the question: “What if the only way I’ll find home is if I know it within myself?” Hm. It looks like I’ve begun another journey toward home. Does this remind you of any stories, folk tales, myths?

Helen Yee is an improvising violinist, multi-instrumentalist and composer. Currently violinist for the eclectic string trio, Trio Tritticali she also performs on yangqin with Music From China. She considers the practice of improvisation in all its forms a profound teacher in art and in life.


  1. Helen, I loved reading this. I got such a sense of your experience and the different threads of it as you've gone through life. And yes, your journey reminds me of nearly all my favorite stories!

  2. Thank you for sharing your story of home, Helen. Reading this has me thinking about my own stories about where I live in my city and opening up to the idea of a new definition of home. Thank you.

  3. Thank you so much for this post Helen!
    It is the kind of text I needed today, and it is comforting to feel we are not alone feeling as the odd duck not fitting in and not feeling home anywhere! Thanks a million for sharing your story!

  4. I am grateful for your courage in writing this, Helen! I feel honored to know this about you. Thank you! I feel it connects 'home' to 'acceptance'. To find home in a person is to be accepted by that person. It's always interesting to contemplate how or if one finds acceptance in others and within oneself. Not an easy subject to think about! Ultimately the truth is powerful either way, and can be incredibly useful.