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?
3 replies on “Unbelonging”
That’s so funny, I wrote a post about a similar feeling of disconnection on going to Britain…though I no longer have the travel bug – I much much prefer being settled in a country and learning about it in depth. But I’ll enjoy reading about your travels!
I just read it…will comment there…
The travel bug comes and goes – for me it’s more about having a commitment to uncommitment…taking each day as it comes, that sort of thing.
[…] years ago, upon returning from Budapest, I wrote about a sense of unbelonging and a desire to see so much more of the world. While the sense of unbelonging still creeps up now […]