Posted by: Samuel | December 4, 2008

Expatriatism

You made it. Welcome to my story. Or at least parts of it.

I’m an expat, which normally means that I live in a nation that is not my nation of citizenship. That isn’t entirely true in my case, though. In November of 2008, after five years in Sweden, I was granted citizenship. So technically, I’m no longer an expat. But the reality is that once you are an expat – once you embody the sentiments, the attitudes, and the outlook of an expat – you can never really get rid of that identity, no matter who you become. I could be wrong there, though…I haven’t finished becoming.

Life as an expat is not easy. It reminds me of that movie the Langoliers, about a group of airline passengers that somehow find themselves in a dimension of time that is not quite the present and not quite the past. They are stranded in an otherwise empty airport racing against time to find a way back to wherever they are supposed to be, all the while growing more and more aware of a terrible fate coming their way. The climax of the movie sees them trying to escape these huge hairy mouths with big teeth that fly around eating all the scenery and leaving nothing but black space behind. Apparently, this is some rocket scientist’s idea of what happens to moments that have already been experienced in the world and left behind. And it is exactly what living in Sweden is like. Okay, maybe that last part is stretching it a bit, but it was quite a strange movie and Sweden is quite a strange place. The characters in the movie must have felt lost in a place that felt familiar but not quite like home, which is the essence of being an expat. After five years, I don’t feel as though Sweden is home but it has changed me, become such a strong part of my identity that I don’t think I would ever feel entirely at home were I to return to my birthplace. Expats often lose that all-encompassing feeling of home. It is a strange sensation to be someplace and always feel as though you should be somewhere else, as though your home is not complete. I’m not entirely comfortable with the feeling, but it is interesting to be so acutely aware of my lack of place. I suppose it is the antithesis of being completely aware of where you belong. But as long as I can keep dodging the huge, hairy mouths with big teeth, I figure I’ll be okay.

On the following pages, I try to connect who I was with who I am by giving you, the characters from different phases of my life, glimpses into phases in which you played no part. In this way, I hope to show you something about me that you never knew, something that will make you see me in a different light. You will be able to share in some of my experiences, hear some of my political views, learn a bit about who I am, who I was, and who I hope to be. I’ll share music, movies, books, and recipes. Most of it will be pretty light-hearted. Some may be downright dull. I hope some of it will leave a mark. At the very least, rest assured that this is one way to burn some time on your boss’s dime.

Enjoy.

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