Transatlantic only child

When you are an only child making the decision to start everything from scratch on a different continent just like that comes as a shock to your family. Yes, we are currently in the 21st Century and the world has gotten smaller, but putting the Atlantic between yourself and your loved ones is still a huge distance and a challenge for both parties. And it takes time for them to understand.

Most of us get our first idea of what life’s about from our homes, our families, most of all our parents. Since I can remember I have been encouraged to pursue my own understanding of happiness. Whenever we were (or still are every now and then) having ‘serious conversations about life’ my father always says “You’ve got your life to live it”. It was never money that would be the center of our family universe (and no, we are not rich, so it’s not like we are relaxed because it’s always there. It’s not, but there have always been prettier matters to propel our world). It was neither that nor career, fame or success, but love and joy of living your life your own way, in pursuit of your own sense of happiness. I have been given total parental trust and support in choosing the path that would lead me to finding what makes me happy and complete, without any pressure whatsoever. Yet, my parents were surprised with my interpretation of the most important truth they taught me. “Yes you’ve got your life to live it, live it then, but you don’t have to live it all over the place!”

When I was traveling in Europe, they were all right with it; I was always close. Backpacking in Spain, doing a few month scholarship in Italy, trying to fit myself here and there. They were excited for me and cheered for me because they knew how happy it was making me. Even if I was going somewhere far it was always a matter of weeks, a specified number of days within which I would be back because of academic or professional commitments. When I got my next scholarship in New York they were proud, excited and supportive. When I decided to stay… well, I had to give them time. It did take them years to understand. And it’s not easy to understand somebody’s love for the unreasonable. “What are you still doing there? Isn’t it too far? Think about it, be reasonable and come back for once! You belong HERE. All your family and friends are here, all the people who REALLY love you and miss you. Come back, your REAL life and REAL job is waiting for you. Why don’t you settle down, get married and have a normal life, just like… pretty much everyone else?” I’m not saying I won’t. I probably will… not just yet.

Only children don’t have it the easy way. We sometimes feel guilty and selfish about being worlds apart from our loved ones. That is one of the heartbreaking aspects of putting the Atlantic between ‘everything, yourself and home’. There’s always a hint of underlying fear; “What if something happens…”
Well if something happens you drop everything buy a last minute ticket on a transatlantic flight and you’re there. Once you’ve sold half your heart to a destination an ocean away from home, while the other half is still there, where you technically * belong, you can’t win. You can’t win, so you make it another point on your learning syllabus. And you learn. And you learn and you learn till you finally learn to deal with.

*No it’s actually not ‘technically’. You belong to the land that bore you and to your native history and culture both organically and metaphysically, (apart from the obvious emotional ties with your family), but I will get back to that and elaborate on it later.—> —> —> —>
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2 Responses to Transatlantic only child

  1. Agata Chair says:

    That’s the reason why I cannot leave PL… or even Warsaw… family, family’s history, everything. Quite recently I realized that I can’t be happy making others unhappy… and those others are the most important ppl in my life. I just know they would NEVER get over it. I prefer to be.. hmm…. not happy enough (?) than to hurt them. I live with strong sense of guilt that in the past I could be better for them. Even now I could be more loving, caring etc etc. If at least I had a cousin (I mean some other person besides me to be the grandchild for my grandparents)…… :-/

    I can understand you though. And I envy you in a way. If I ever say “come back, you belong here” etc etc (and yes, I do!) it’s because I wish you were here and miss you. You were some part of my life which is gone – it was just suddenly cut off (I think I’m not the only one who feels this way). While you filled your life with new people, places and experiences, you left a huge empty space here. I think people don’t say all those things just because they think you are crazy to leave everything or just because “you should be HERE”. They say it because they wish your place is here. With them. And they can’t replace you. So they try to find a way to persuade you to come back. And it’s not easy to do that. Even the choices you have are funny. They cannot tell you “come back to this boring city pretending to be ‘worldly’, come back to this strange reality, where work rarely gives you satisfaction and/or possibility to live a decent life, come back to the place, where apparently you were just unhappy – for sure you will be happy now!”. See…… they have not much to offer except of themselves. So they try different ways. Please don’t be angry to them (us).

    Personally I’m proud of you. I admire your strength (yes!) and ability to make decisions. And yes – it took me a loooooooooooot of time to understand it.

    Anyway…. Come back soon ;-p LOL

  2. sk says:

    “Themselves” is more than I could ever expect from anyone to offer. And the family history lives in me and will always be there, and I only discovered the bond when I left, because before; it was too obvious to be visible. I have been carrying it with me and I always will and it has never been more clear and important to me than since I left. (And I’m going to write about it soon). And wherever I happen to chose to spend the following years of my life I am going to spend them fully aware of who I am, and where I’m coming from, which, I think in my case, wouldn’t be possible otherwise. The heart is torn between two continents this way or another anyway; so there will always be a little bit of me on both continents.

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