(Trying to blog from my phone again, let's see if it'll work!)
Lately I've been really struggling with being an expatriate (again! This comes & goes...). It's not that I miss my country. No. I'm fine with not living there. It's just that I'm struggling once more with feeling like an outsider.
I think that part of this is related to the church/school community that we are part of. For the very first time in he 16.5 years we've lived in this country we are finally part of a large (i.e. several hundred people) community that is predominantly American, mostly white American.
I suffered from pretty strong culture shock back in 2010 when we moved here. It got better, but now it's again becoming difficult to deal with.
This whole "not having friends" problem in my life had been nearly "solved" by the interactions I had through blogging -- but that was back when I didn't have much of a life (had babies/small children, went to really small churches, was home full time trying to finish the phd).
Now, we're finally part of a large and thriving community, we've settled down, K has a stable job at the university and I have a job (or two "half" jobs) too.
Maybe part of the problem could be the disappointment of settling down in a place that we thought would be just perfect (and in many ways it actually is...) and in the end no place can be perfect.
Then what happens is that I blame it all on being a foreigner, on being here in America, where people are friendly, but never really true friends. [this sounds like "Prairie Home Companion's" Garrison Keillor talking, no? ;-)]. A few concrete examples...
Three weeks ago we went on the school's ski trip & when not skiing I was back at the lodge where a large group of parents & people from our school/church community were hanging out as kids skied (there were 90 skiers plus several people just there with the kids). Nobody really talked to me. I knew I could have talked to this Dominican friend, mom of my son's friend & classmate, but that was it. People seemed to just ignore me. I tried to talk to a few people, but I couldn't get any conversations going. There were a few groups of moms together talking, which mede me feel like I don't belong at all. Sigh...
... Whenever there is a school (K-8 private School) event I feel like everyone is part of a group or "clique" and that we just don't really fit in. Many people in the school have been around for 10-15 years or are originally from this area... Again, most white Americans. I can easily interact with the few Hispanic families, but we're all "outsiders" anyway, so it's obvious that we identify with each other and not with the majority.
All my close/good friends here in the U.S. are either foreigners themselves or children of immigrants or married/partnered with foreigners. Brazilians, Korean, Romanian, Indonesian, Mexican, Spanish, British, African, Bulgarian, Argentinians, Jamaican, Haitian, etc. What's up with that? Is the problem with me? With us?
Last March, at the conference I went to in Rhode Island, when I shared this thought with my dear English friend (who has also lived here for the past 17 years), it gave her pause. She thought for a minute and was able to think of only two American friends.
I was going to blame it partially on my particular religious community, but my English friend is not religious at all and her experience is similar to mine.
I don't know what else to say. This may be a phase which will hopefully soon pass. Or maybe it's just he lifelong reality of expatriate life and ill have to learn to cope with it and adapt. And by now going back "home" to my country would probably not be a solution in any way.
There's no "home" to go back to. I have to bloom (or weed, as my dear online friend Jamie so brilliantly says) or "weed" where I'm planted. And I will make my best to do just that. Promise. Thanks for listening.
P.S. I was just reminded tonight that there's hope. :-) Thanks Heidi!
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