As someone who has spent much of their life moving back and forth between being ‘an invisible other’ and a ‘visible other’, I have often written (for myself) about trying to adapt and become part of a new place. I suppose that ‘successful chameleon’ would be a good descriptor. This came to mind the other night while reading Lena’s blog, in which she describes herself (amongst a myriad of beautiful images) as a cultural chameleon and muse. This! I though. Exactly this!
There are tired moments when things don’t quite fit, the colour is not merging with those around us, and energies are being sapped away. But then, finally, it all comes together and you can step out of your earlier skin to jauntily walk along, sunglasses and hat on, smiling as your soundtrack picks up another beat and it seamlessly blends in with those that already existed.
I was looking back at things I have written at different points. To remind myself of those halting moments, pierced by random beauty, that came before the rush of belonging.
From the last time that I became British, and an academic:
Yesterday I worked. I smiled at people that I didn’t want to speak to and blinked silently when their utterings were so banal as to be offensive. Why do I still work you ask? I work because I am waiting for the moment when the ESRC writes me an email to tell me that actually I don’t have funding any more, they made a mistake – or the money has been diverted to the ‘bankers without bonuses’ fund. When this happens, I will be able to smile and write them a thank you note and only stare sadly at the screen for a moment before turning and picking up the always packed bag and making my way across the ocean to find work in Latin America.
It wasn’t so terrible. I walked back home as the crow with the broken wing would go: through the back streets and parks…hesitating before the one with no lights. I chose to take the plunge and it was beautiful. The snow sucks the city sounds out of the air, the frost holds the trees and the lake in its grasp and I was the only living breathing thing, crunching my way across the crystal grass. I was the snow queen, the stars were the points of my crown and Liverpool was divine for ten minutes of my day.
has a way to betray
This is mine
Am I betraying a revolution by questioning everything? Is there one happening? Can I start one if not? I’m being urged not to go to London to express my anger with the changes that are taking place in this country; changes that would make the opportunities that I have had no longer available to a younger me. Even the most revolutionary of my friends are “getting tired” of all this marching…Its like a “weird activist weightloss programme” apparently. I’ll admit, that is funny, but at the same time, sad. If I don’t go, then who will? I visited the Sociology department for coffee and debate, maybe to sort out my thoughts on this matter. The professors there have signs on their doors saying that they support the ‘magnificent student protests’ and that any students participating in them will not suffer any negative repercussions on their courses. If I were a professor, I would have that sign. I would not be sat in my office telling people that it is not very convenient.
Little things bring beauty into my life then. On either side the precipice. I will stay up late all week so that I can get on a bus at 530 am on Thursday and tell the people that I voted for that this is NOT what they promised and that we will not stand by frozen, waiting for serendipity, or some mythical lion to come and breathe life into us.
Now to write a few essays on Frake before Thursday.
And now, once again, I am here. Refusing to wait for serendipity, adapting, observing, becoming.