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notes from 85°C
singapore sunset
amw
This morning in the coffee shop, i tapped away at an entry while i procrastinated on doing my flash cards... This meme/writing prompt is nabbed from susandennis - List everywhere you've lived.

-o-

Aldershot, UK
Gibralter
Folkestone, UK
Osnabrück, West Germany
Glasgow, Scotland
Auckland, New Zealand
Hamilton, New Zealand
Cambridge, New Zealand
Copenhagen, Denmark
Zoeterwoude-Dorp, Holland
Leiderdorp, Holland
Toowoomba, Australia
Brisbane, Australia
Tracy CA, USA
Brisbane, Australia (again)
Melbourne, Australia
Vaughan, Canada
Toronto, Canada
Berlin, Germany
Shenzhen, China

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?

-o-

「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.

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This entry is reminding me of a dynamic here on eastern Long Island where I live (now only for 6 months), but where we raised our son, and my husband was born here.

When I arrived, I was told (and I don't remember by whom!) that I would never be considered a "Local". Since I wasn't born here, I could only be considered a "year rounder". At least I wasn't considered a "summer person", "weekender" or "day tripper" which is what the various "classification" of vacationers are called, as this is a vacation destination. My husband and son could "claim" "local" status because they were born here. I never bought into this....

There is a Facebook group of residents of the east end of Long Island and this topic came up and it really got contentious. I've always considered myself a "local" here (at least before we began our snowbird lifestyle), and in one thread I made the mistake of saying that I have been around this area for more years than many of them have been alive. For that, I give myself the designation of "local" -- I said it kind of tongue in cheek. I had no idea that what a ruckus it would cause! I acknowledged that I could never be a "native" - as that was reserved for those who were born there. Meanwhile the topic deteriorated into how long their families had lived in the area -- some before the Revolutionary War -- like it was some badge of honor.

(And, as an aside, maybe the Native Americans (Shinnecock tribe who live locally here) are maybe the only "natives" to this area!)

Suddenly our local newspaper put out a questionnaire to residents as to the definition of "local".

Huh?

Like ... WHO THE HELL CARES?

Bottom line: "...and the only real home is the place you are right now?" That's it. Screw all that stratifying and classifying of one's status to an area where one lives.

This is a great comment, thanks for sharing! I don't think I have come across this "who's the localest?" debate anywhere I lived, except perhaps in a tongue-in-cheek way, but I wonder if that's because I have tended to live in migrant cities and exurbs/commuter towns where the whole conversation would be a bit ridiculous.

I have an academic sympathy for people who have a strong connection to a piece of land - whether they are indigenous residents or multi-generational settlers with stories dating back a long time in the area - but I also think it's taking things a bit far for them to dismiss anyone new who shows up. Human history has always been able migration, and every band or family or individual was new to the area at some point. I think it's totally possible to respect the ancestral heritage of the people who were there before while embracing those who choose to build a life there today.

But of course I would say that, wouldn't I? I am always the settler/exploiter/"townie"/whatever.

I've seen a fair number of the lists lately, but yours is the most cosmopolitan by far.

He passed away a few years ago, but I used to know a guy who spent half the year in Montana and the other half in New Zealand, thus bypassing winter entirely. If I had a trust fund I'd probably do something like that ...

It's funny you used the adjective cosmopolitan, because I always associate it with toffee-nosed snobs who use it to disparage the hoi polloi. But I guess it is actually a good fit for me.

I like the idea of snow-birding as an alternative to a permanent traveling lifestyle. I guess heading to the opposite hemisphere is taking snow-birding to the extreme, but sure, if you got the cash why not?

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