Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist.

Page 168 of 186

Unbelonging

I arrived at Ferihegy Airport early this morning, took a few photos, eased through customs (the security guard asked, “any liquids? change? keys? guns?” with a smile), got on the plane and proceeded to choke back tears: for what, I don’t know. Perhaps it was the severe lack of sleep I’ve sustained for the past seven days, or perhaps it was the letdown of the Summit ending, or perhaps it was something else.

Getting off the plane at JFK, back in my country, easing into the crowds (something I don’t do willingly or easily) of, mostly, Americans screaming and shouting and feeling, as I do every time I return to the States, that I don’t belong. Surrounded by beachgoers and tourists, first-time travelers and Long Islanders, I feel more the outcast in my own country than nearly anywhere else I’ve been.

And then through customs and into New York, where suddenly things feel different. I order my coffee with cinnamon and brown sugar, and the woman behind the counter calls me “mama” in the way only a New York Latina can and for a second everything feels okay.

This crisis of identity that belongs to the uprooted, the transplanted, the culturally confused now belongs to me as well. I used to feel happy to be home; now, with each exit and entry I feel I belong less and less.

But how do you explain this feeling of needing to run? Wanting to be alone? Wanting to grab just one pack, fill it with only the most important items (iPod, journal, laptop perhaps, clean underwear) and take off around the world, surfing couches and visiting long-lost friends (but never for too long). The feeling comes and goes; sometimes I think I’m content but I know I’m just lazy. The rest of the time I long for freedom.

My passport expires in 2012 and has 25 stamps and 27 free spaces. Will you help me fill them?

Oh, my new friends.

I’ve always said that the hardest part of growing up is leaving friends behind – or, in my circle, leaving friends all over the world, so to speak. In this particular instance, the Global Voices Summit, I found it particularly hard to “leave behind” the wonderful new friends I’ve made. As I sat last night in the Novotel lobby with Sofia and Amira, I couldn’t help but notice how empty it felt, devoid of the Global Voices liveliness. A veritable ghost of GV Summit now passed.

And now, as I sit here with Daniel Duende in the California Coffee Company in Pest, responding to GV e-mails, writing GV posts, and reading blogs of GVers, I realize that I am with you all, and you with me, even if we are halfway around the world from one another. From friends farthest away…

…to those I could reach in four to six hours by car…

…to those with whom I share a city…



…to the dancers…

…the drinkers….

…to each and every one of you…

…I raise an invisible plate in the spirit of love, harmony, humanity, and GV!

AMAZING

Best part of the Summit – Neha Viswanathan taught us Bollywood dance moves (ask me about the “screw-in-a-lighbulb-and-pet-the-dog”) this morning to the tune of this:

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