I find myself in the unique and interesting position of having a foot two different places, a foot in two different shoes, if you will, although neither fit my feet very well any longer.
In July, the EU membership referendum result shook me to the core. The country that I had chosen as ‘home’ for the past 18 years suddenly seemed an alien place to this American expat. In 2007, after living over here for 9 years, I definitively chose the UK over America. I have been an Anglophile since the age of 8 and I chose the place that seemed closer to my values and the way of life I wanted to lead – I also loved the closeness, in spirit and geography, to Europe. When I met my husband Steve in 2008, that sealed the deal. We have felt fortunate that we have had the choice to be in the UK, the US or even Europe, although we have been happily settled in our home on Dartmoor whilst we surveyed our options.
My October sojourn to California re-connected me to my West Coast roots. I came Home to myself in a deeper way, renewing bonds to places, family & friends and have felt much riper and grounded as a result. Steve had an amazing trip to one of the most beautiful places in the world, with a native tour guide. We both had the question in our minds, ‘Could I/we see ourselves living here?’ The answer was ‘Yes, if that’s what we decide to do.’
I am so grateful that I went back before the election results. Then on November 9th, I awoke to the shock of an unthinkable Trump presidency. Now, at the end of the first awful week of the new administration, America no longer seems like the familiar, though distant place that it has occupied in my psyche. Curiously, it wasn’t as emotionally destabilizing to me as Brexit, I suppose because my current home and circle of friends is here.
My US passport which gives me permanent residence in the UK, is up for renewal this year. A passport is a travel document that certifies the identity and nationality of its holder for the purpose of international travel. A passport is a document certifying identity and nationality. Citizenship, nationality, identity, national identity, statelessness. . . . . .
These days I ponder. Where do I belong? Where do I fit in? How can I be a citizen, a member, of a place that no longer reflects who I am?
The answers to these questions invite more questions. The most important thing to do now, is to keep both of my feet firmly on the ground, keep my mind and eyes wide open and listen to where my heart beckons. I’m a citizen of the world, a world without borders and walls and us-es and thems.
Where is that place? Inside of me. When I am with certain other like minded, openhearted people, that place becomes bigger, inhabited by a fledgling populace. These people are friends, family and colleagues in ‘real life’. They are also part of my online sorority and fraternity, which is based in cyberspace.
We need to make a new country, an alternative world based on tolerance, equality and diversity; care for the environment; filled with art and creativity and all of the other good things that humanity is capable of. Time to kick off those old shoes that no longer fit, that pinch our feet and aren’t fit to take us on any journeys, anywhere.
We don’t need those old shoes.