Monday, October 22, 2007

I no longer fit in anywhere

When you live abroad, you see new places, but you also see where you came from in a way you never could before. When I visit home now, I question the people that drive from one store to the next in a strip mall, waiting as long for the closest parking spot to the next store as possible when they could have walked much faster. I question the big cars with one driver in them. I question the necessity of 24-hour shopping. I will never be able to live in my own country again as a blissful citizen, one who knows no other way of doing things.

But I cannot become Swiss either. No matter how good my language gets, I will never speak like a local. I will never feel comfortable barging in front of people in lines, even though my skills are improving. I will always complain about the lack of choices in grocery stores—there is no such thing in Switzerland as an aisle of only soda and no concept whatsoever of root beer. I will always want to call someone by their first name the first time I meet them, not have to wait a year while we politely size each other up. I will always start a business meeting with a topic like what I ate for lunch instead of the business at hand—small talk is in my blood.

In both countries, I have seen the good and bad, and understood each by separating myself from them even though I have lost my old identity in the process. But I still hope that when I return to live in the United States—even though I may question many things I never would have before— that I will never question that I am home.

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