It’s common for people who grew up across and between cultures to wonder who they would have been if they hadn’t moved. I have often wondered if I would be different if I had never left my home city, if I had stayed and taken part in all the rituals and rites of passage of a more traditional, monocultural life. Would I feel happy and settled, or would I still be as restless as I am?
The Other Me
I’ve thought about her a lot over the years. Sometimes she is exactly where I left her, perched on the windowsill of that second floor apartment, dusty net curtains pushed aside, watching with fascination the boys and girls in their white dresses and robes in the Holy Communion procession. She can’t wait until it’s her turn to wear the white dress and white shoes with little heels, but most of all she wants to wear the flower wreath with the veil. She wants to scatter flower petals out of a little basket. She presses her nose against the glass, counting how many years she has to wait: Four or five. Too long! A lot can happen.
Other times she’s older and walking to school. This is already after… you know… so I can’t picture her that clearly. She looks like someone who maybe doesn’t have that much money and there’s really nothing interesting or unique about her appearance, but she looks perfectly happy the way she is. She crosses the street and enters the park and I know she is a whole person, with nothing missing or out of place.
I find it even harder to picture her later in her life. There are too many possibilities, too many questions. What became of her? Who is she, this other me? The me that stayed, was never pulled from the earth. Was there ever a time when I stood at the crossroads and I was both me and her at the same time? Then, when I left, she stayed behind and now here I am, in another dimension, wandering around like a restless phantom, searching the world for answers. Or is she the phantom, hovering just outside my peripheral vision, walking behind me, tapping me on the shoulder and then disappearing. She whispers in my ear, ‘It’s not too late, you know,’ she says. ‘Whenever you lose something, all you have to do is retrace your steps and you’ll find it eventually.’ But I ignore her because I’ve grown accustomed to travelling on roads that lead to places, not times.
Over the past couple of years I’ve been working on a solo performance project about my journey to understanding home and belonging as a TCK. It’s taken SO long but I just couldn’t figure out how to tell the story on stage. The project has gone through countless possible incarnations in my mind and on paper but it is now – finally – nearly there. I’m so excited. I’m tired of writing – I can’t wait to start rehearsing! I’ve written so much material that I won’t be using, so I’ve decided to publish some of it here. Monologues, poems, vignettes , fragments of a fragmented identity. I would love to know your thoughts.