Better late than never.
I really had no expectations for my trip to visit my brother for Christmas. I’d always wanted to go to Colorado, fascinated both by the landscape and the social politics. But I’ve been away from the US for long enough to have a disassociation with all that people there identify with, and build their life around. The hills that people choose to die upon, the things that they rage about, from the outside looking in…sometimes seem really silly. Particularly when it comes to identity.
So, of course, I found myself struggling with identity there. Me. Who’s taken so much time to be with myself, to learn who I am. What I stand for? To be so clear about what I want and don’t want in life. But each time I was asked “So where are you from?” at an Acro event, I sunk a bit deeper into the space of not wanting to be seen. What were they really asking me? I hadn’t divulged my pronoun — because really I don’t even understand what it means. But were they actually asking me where I travelled from? Where I lived? Where I was born? My nationality? Where I identify with, culturally? Spiritually? Did they want to know my experience? What brought me there? How would I find a succinct, accurate answer without sounding like I’m humble-bragging or turning it into a conversation all about me?
A silly thing to struggle with, while people around the world struggle to meet their basic needs.
That’s what I kept thinking.
It came full circle. I went, an outsider, and still fell into the trap of identity politics. I saw firsthand why I can’t move back to the US. How people cling to labels in order to create a sense of safety in identity, in a place where nothing is truly safe. Especially for people of culture. How it all muddies the water and keeps people distracted from what’s truly important. Like what’s happening with our children--how they struggle to connect with other humans, because we’re all too busy pandering in the internet. Worrying about how things look, and never at all how they feel. Meanwhile, they're overstimulated by screens. Losing touch with all that makes us human.
I also saw firsthand what it would mean for me to not live where my closest family does as I get older. In being in a place where, should children be part of my life path, I’d be able to get help, relief from parenting once in a while, by family members I could trust to care for him or her. In trying to figure out what it will look like for me to live where I want to live and not have a village around me to help me raise my child.
I’ve been silent since this trip.
Pondering all these things while I try to figure out where to go next, a place where I can stay and set roots. What place exists where the social climate matches what I can at least tolerate, while still being surrounded by people I love? I never found that here. I never found it in Thailand. I never found it in “America”. What I found, in the latter 2, was always half of the equation. How do I decide which of the two I need most? How can I sacrifice any of them? These are the questions I’m faced with now. With less than 3 months to make up my mind.
A conundrum of my own creation. Fuelled by the fact that I place myself in scenarios that require me to grow, constantly. To choose, constantly. And to decide, constantly. In knowing that I can’t un-know or un-see any of the things I’ve experienced. That I can’t possibly—ever—go back(ward).
I’m grateful for all of it. I needed this trip. I needed the family time. I needed the exposure. I needed the mountains. I needed the cold. I needed the altitude. I needed the questions. I needed the fall after the height.
Now, I just need to find the answers.