Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Reflections on being an immigrant

Originally posted on Multiply May 21 2009

This was inspired by a Multiply friend's post on Norway's National Day. Congrats Norway, you are a wonderful country! We would have moved there in 1968 if they had let us.
She wrote:
"Home is where they speak my language, where the food is well-known, where we sing the same songs, where people know me......."

When one leaves the place of one's formative years to go somewhere else, some things are lost no matter how much is gained.

On the morning of March 26th, 1969, a few hours before Chris' Dad was due to take us to the airport for the big trip, we realized we needed one more suitcase. This incident could be used as proof that we both have ADD, but that is another topic. I made a quick dash to the Haarlemmer straat to buy one, crossing a bridge over the Brouwers Gracht on the way. A particularly nice spot, here it is.
And the thought came to me that I would never again live in a place where I had such a clear claim. I had belonged to it, it belonged to me.

The move to Canada has been great. I have never, for a single second, regretted it. We became Canadians as soon as we could.

We now have this, which would have been totally impossible in Holland. Ten glorious acres, about 4 hectares, of land. Our own space in natural surroundings whose beauty feeds my soul daily.
And yet. Sometimes going back to "the old country" is like stepping into a comfortable pair of old shoes. On this last trip my mouth relaxed instantly and comfortably into its mother tongue. I find this a bit scary. If I am to speak only one language without accent, I'd prefer it to be the one I have adopted for the last 40 years.

Being an immigrant means a fault line runs through your life. You often don't know if certain changes are due to the factor of Here, or the factor of Now.

1 comment:

  1. wonderful photos..some of your best
    particularly of Amsterdam it seems like such a lovely city..have had several friends visit and one use to live there when they first married..
    all loved it.


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