Thursday, April 30, 2009
Ever been to California?
Living in a country different to the one you grew up in is an interesting, enriching experience. Sometimes it is also lonely, depressing and isolating. Depends on your particular situation, your attitude, what you are experiencing at the moment and especially the people in your environment. There are different stages of acceptance of your 'lot' and a lot of adjusting and compromise involved too. Someone recently said that 'our banishment is self-imposed' and I really like that. We did choose in a roundabout way to be here, simply by falling in love with someone who had their roots elsewhere. We have since chosen to stay and make it work as well, in spite of the obstacles. Language, culture, tradition, mentality and being the only representative of your immediate family in a far away place covers the main obstacles, but there are many more, unexplainable. So you hurdle these or get stuck on them, sometimes for a long time. Some things you never get used to and don't necessarily need to. There is a certain amount of fitting in that you are forced to do, even if the only real reason behind it is to not always stick out like a sore thumb and to have to answer 20 questions every time from those who find your ways bizarre. But this fitting in is a conundrum (sp? too lazy to look it up) because take it too far and you've lost your identity. Sometimes you think with aching heart of the things you grew up knowing and know that your children will never have the same relationship with those things as you had. Yesterday we were in a candy store and the boys wanted to use some of their pocket money to pick out a few sweets. On our way out of the store (which did not carry swedish fish mind you) I spotted some Oreo's and said, oh look, they have Oreos! My enthusiasm was obviously not shared (I am not a particular fan of Oreo's, just don't see them too often here) by the boys, who all responded with 'what are Oreo's?' I was sort of stunned for a minute--hold on here, a bunch of kids who don't even know what an Oreo is?? How unamerican can you get!? So that started all of this reflection and I have been thinking about it since. Of course it won't change their lives if they never eat or even see an Oreo, but now and again it dawns on me how different they are growing up than I did. What are going to be their fond childhood memories? Will they have a soft spot for my home country and the memories that I have shared and traditions I have tried to make traditions in our family, even though the people around us do not do these things? I hope so. I hope they will love wherever they end up, and have an enthusiasm for appreciating other cultures, no matter how strange or different. Last night, Liam had a nightmere and was up in our room. I usually make them go potty and then send them back to bed. This is what my mom did for us, and I guess it stuck. So I had tucked him in (I couldn't very well say go get in bed with Lisa like mom used to say) and he said to me on my way out of the room, 'mom, have you ever been to California?' Yes, Liam, I just said, and laid awake for a long time, turning beautiful, precious memories of said place over and over in my mind.