belonging

This week was our first anniversary of living in the UK! I am now conversational in Yorkshire, know that jelly is Jell-O and a Ariel isn’t just the Little Mermaid, it’s also a car’s antenna. I look right first when crossing the street and can navigate roundabouts on my bike. My love affair with old British houses had only become more passionate with time and sometimes I even eat beans on toast.

But there’s no denying it – I’m still an American. Brits love to impersonate my accent in the most inaccurate and nasal voice imaginable. I still long for ice water and garbage disposals. I dream of sunshine and warmth. I have to remind myself to say “zed” instead of “zee” when I see the letter “z.”

It’s funny what living abroad can do to your sense of belonging… I know I don’t belong in the UK but then I also start worrying that I won’t feel at home in the US either. I think whenever you’re living abroad it’s all too easy to idealize your homeland. Nostalgia is a powerful thing. Somehow I always picture DC as sunny and with the cherry blossoms in full bloom. But then I get paranoid because I know the US is far from perfect. Nevertheless, something about being abroad makes you want to defend your country from criticism. Like when you’re little, it’s ok for you to complain about your mom but as soon as your friend makes the slightest negative remark about her, you come rushing to her defense.

And when people ask you – “What’s blank like in the States?” or “How do they do so-and-so where you’re from?” how can you answer? There’s such diversity and differences even within my own homeland. And yet I’m constantly comparing the UK and US… trying to make sense of who I am and how my culture has shaped me. It’s hard to know where “home” is, and harder still to realise whenever you return it will have changed.

But then, perhaps belonging isn’t about a place. Regardless of location it’s good to know that Dan & I belong together. And I guess when it comes down to it, perhaps I don’t feel at home on this earth because I’m a citizen of another kingdom.

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6 thoughts on “belonging

  1. truly truly.

    it has been hot and sunny…i think we are having a drought.

    i can’t wait for u to see where i am living these days. and miss you all very very much.

    can’t wait to see you soon!!!

  2. DnA
    Your last post made me think of Dorothy in OZ
    The streets are wide in the US
    The steering wheel is not where the glove box should be
    Chips are made by UTZ and dont look like freedom fries
    and to quote the great maggie thatcher the best man for a job is a woman (Sarah Palin)
    Love dad

  3. So very well said ~ I’m not exactly in another country… but I feel very similarly out here in the land of California (which, really, is like another country 🙂 ) Yeah….nice to read words that I often struggle for….

  4. PS will you send me your email address? i was looking for it on here but didn’t find it… and then i got distracted by your wonderful writing..

  5. A couple of years ago, I ended up travelling to three or four different countries for extended periods of time and was away from home for WAY too long. I love travelling, and I’m not a blind supporter of U.S. policies in…well…any area. But at the end of my last trip, I handed my passport over to the American officer at passport control at JFK. He stamped it, handed it back, and said, “Welcome home.” And I actually TEARED UP. Surprised me.

    My opinon: Doesn’t matter how much you love the place you’re in: part of you will always yearn for the country where you grew up. 🙂

  6. Too true! It’s like on the airplane when you land and everyone claps. That only happens when the majority on the plane is arriving back home.

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