Has it ever happened to you that you are having a conversation with someone and even though both of you were speaking the same language you couldn’t really understand a word of what they were saying? Walls of cultural references, upbringing, experiences and age separate you. You could tell them what it was like to leave everything you have ever known to come to this strange land. How you have come to love it in all its strangeness. Drinking in everything all at once. Observing, learning, accepting and rejecting one strange thing after another with hopes of belonging. And yet never really being one of them. For to them you are the strange one with your black hair and brown skin that tans the moment it hits the sun. Your strange accent that many find hard to understand. Your even stranger name that gets ridiculed. Even your strangely spicy food that mingles with your sweat.
In so many ways you try to not stand out. To be obscure. A wallflower. You try to talk like them, dress like them. You watch the movies they watch so you can talk about it later. Yet you struggle and fall, clumsy as a child learning to walk. You seek out others like yourself who are trying very hard to find their sea legs, lost as you are in an ocean of strangeness. But they no longer share anything with you except the food, the clothes and maybe a language or two. They have moved beyond the strangeness. They have a common purpose – to pursue excellence, success and whatever else they grew up thinking were worthy pursuits. They either completely accept the strangeness and become one with it or totally reject it and go the other way. But you can do neither.
The strangeness is beautiful and has gotten under your skin in a distantly familiar way. It wishes to mingle with all that you were and create a sweet emulsion. But you struggle to reconcile both sides – the before and after. You constantly dance between the two limbos. Never fully happy here and knowing deep within that you will never be happy there. If somehow the two worlds could be merged, a peaceful and happy ending might have been in the offing. But that would be like asking the sky to fall down and merge with the ocean bed.
So here I stand, my roots dislodged once again. My spirit yearning for a place to call home. Always so close to finding it and then realizing that something is missing. Maybe I’m too idealistic. Maybe such a place doesn’t exist. Or maybe I need to change and be more open to life and its gifts, even though it brings me something other than what I had in mind. I know every place I went to offered me a missing piece of the puzzle. I never knew how strong I was until I had my kids and raised them. I was so far away from my family and had little or no help and yet I managed. Florida shifted my focus to me and empowering myself so I could be independent. I learned to drive and also started volunteering. I even managed to get a job which has done wonders for my confidence and self esteem.
Now as we are poised to leave Florida, a mixture of dread and anticipation wash over me. I know I will discover and embrace another part of me as I grow roots in this new place. I know it will offer me gifts that the other places couldn’t. If I could just embrace the discomfort and go with the flow it would be so much easier. And that is just what I intend to do!