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.—> —> —> —>