Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I realized after I wrote yesterday that I was struggling with my own sense of place. I have lived my adult life in a country in which I am a foreigner. When I flew in from Quito through Miami, I endured three hours in immigration, almost missing my flight with the students back to Baltimore. I have become very familiar with the alien experience in the United States, especially since 9/11.

Of course growing up Canadian is different but not so different from growing up American. But then, growing up in Canada was for me an alien experience as well. My parents came to Canada from Germany and Italy in 1956, and embraced the Canadian experience fully. When I was five we moved to Italy for only a few years, but returning to Canada afterward was awkward for me and my sisters. I never truly felt Canadian, so it was not difficult to move to Southern California and then to Salt Lake City. I blended in without effort, but was always a foreigner. I have a Canadian passport, but I do not feel Canadian. I am not connected to Canada, I do not yearn for any particular place in Canada. I miss my parents and wish I lived closer to them and love visiting them at Christmas and summertime. Both my sisters have struggled with this sense of place, of belonging to a place or country. One of my sisters chose to live in Italy and France and another in Cyprus-France-England-Germany and now California and Boston. We have all found ourselves displaced, in foreign lands, trying to connect, to belong to a place. 

I live in Baltimore because my husband has a position at Johns Hopkins. I have never liked or disliked the city, but it is where I live and I enjoy all it has to offer. If I had a choice, if I had all the money in the world, I would not live here. I don't belong to any place; I am connected to people, to friends, to family, but they are scattered all over the place.

It is not difficult to imagine moving to Ecuador. I am a foreigner there as much as I am a foreigner here, and I am accustomed to being a foreigner. 

No comments:

Post a Comment