Itís a lot of work and a lot of love, but behind those there is an unsettledness...
Coming to the Netherlands I thought of a few years Ė cultural experiences and professional fun Ė an then going back home.
Iím listening to Stephanie on Skype, talking in Swedish with her kids. I think of friends staying in our house: she talks to their daughter in French, he talks in Dutch. Iím hungry Ė observing, thinking Ė feeding the unsettledness that doesnít go awayÖ
Itís not about cultural differences. Speaking different languages or coming from different cultures Ė somehow I tend to connect with people based on personalities and shared values rather than cultural origins. Language or cultural differences are there, but there are so many reasons to explore the shared ground that whose are more fun than a problem. At the end I always enjoyed diversity and building bridges across.
Itís about something else.
Now Iím realising that I grew up in a small place. Itís not really small (10 million? I guess more), but it feels that way. I grew up with close physical distance to all my social ties. Itís not that we saw each other often, but everyone was within an hour or two Ė family, friends, acquaintances. Big city is big enough to live, to have fun and work, to do things, to find people to hand out with. In that sense itís self-contained.
You donít feel the boundaries Ė there is so much to explore in ever-changing space, with so many people and things happening. And you can travel as well. But those travels are like Moscow metro Ė radial lines connecting in the center Ė you go far and have fun, but at the end you are back to the space where your life belongs Ė your social space that happened to be so small. Close social interactions are ad-hoc Ė with an hour or two in between you donít have to plan much, and even if you do, its knowledge that everyone is around that adds a very special flavour to your life.
Now I realise that I do not have role-models. There are millions in Moscow who could tell me a story of coming from far-away or having their loved ones far away, but my close family is around and my friends are there. Some of them could tell a story of connecting with those far away, but I never asked. I never thought it would be important. Like you would never think of what you would wear in the snow if you never seen it. Stories of others are curiosities about the life on Mars.
Now itís different. Now Iím hungry for those stories, looking for the models and experiences, figuring out what to expect. The centralised model I grew up with is not there any more Ė my social ties are all over the place, itís getting more so and it doesnít feel like temporary anymore.
This brings unsettledness. Going home is an illusion Ė I read it when I was 17, but only now Iím starting to realise it.
Itís not that Iím homesick. Not right here and right now. Itís just an unsettledness of realising that things that have never been part of my life before are here to stay...