Osnabrück, West Germany
Auckland, New Zealand
Hamilton, New Zealand
Cambridge, New Zealand
Tracy CA, USA
Brisbane, Australia (again)
Interesting. Brisbane is the only place I have ever moved back to after I left. Brisbane is also the city I have lived longer than anywhere else. It's also the only place people know me both as former (boy) me and present me.
Speaking of names, on the move between New Zealand and Denmark, I changed my name from my gendered first name to one of my non-gendered middle names. When I changed my name again during transition I deliberately chose an opposite gendered name to avoid confusion. Now I miss that non-gendered middle name and frequently ask people to call me by a non-gendered abbreviation. To any future parents out there: consider giving your kid at least one non-gendered name. Hedge your bets.
Of course, here on LJ I am just amw.
I wonder if I should include those in-between places where you are temporarily staying somewhere? If I include Vaughan because I lived with J's parents when I first arrived in Canada, should I also list staying with my nan in Manningtree before we left for New Zealand, or staying with my oma in Maastricht when we arrived back in Europe? I guess back then I was too young to make my own decisions, so it didn't really matter where I lived, whereas I very clearly remember living with J's parents in their pedestrian-hostile Toronto exurb and hating every fucking second of it. Perhaps also those memories of Manningtree and Maastricht are blown out because I was a kid and everything seemed like forever. It might just be like the couple weeks I spent living with dad in Vienna when I first got back to Europe again after Canada.
God, now my dad is back in New Zealand to wangle his retirement and my mom is going through cancer treatment in Australia. I guess both of my parents will die down under, which means I will probably have to go back there sooner or later. I did have some good times down there, but in the wide angle of my life, Europe always felt like my ancestral home and North America always felt like my aspirational home. I really never fit in down under. I was never truly happy.
I wonder how I will see China in the future? Will I remember it as my first expat home? Or will I remember it as the turning point when I realized that both ancestral and aspirational homes are irrelevant and the only real home is the place you are right now?
「来了就是深圳人」- you arrive, you're a Shenzhener
Yes, it's a tacky slogan used to sell real estate, but ... it's a philosophy I will take me with everywhere I go after here.