Sunday, January 12, 2014

Calling home

When I first moved to America I checked back  with my parents every other day. Everyone was excited to hear how I was getting around, what I had seen, who I met, what were some of the places I had  gone to. And I felt they needed to hear that I was not only fine, but actually building a life for myself here, so I was happy to share some details. When I was visiting my cousin in Vegas that first Christmas I was shocked when he told me that he calls his mother once maybe three, perhaps every four weeks. I always thought we had what I'd describe as a very close family. There's nothing to really talk about- he explained. If there's bad news, she'd only worry. Nothing she could help me with from a far. -My mom tries to argue with me about politics, I replied.( Both of them are very opinionated and always bring the discussion to Polish current affairs at some point, and it gets pretty loud and heated  if you disagree). - She doesn't do that anymore- he replied- She knows better. I don't live there anymore, I don't really care. Years later, I feel I have a hard time finding things to talk about as well. I don't do anything that fun or unusual, every week looks pretty much the same. Sometimes I take on a client- nothing I can freely discuss anyway. Sometimes I'm dropping another, I get frustrated, I do good job putting a document together or some project I worked on moves ahead. But they were not as informed about the details to appreciate it anyway. If anything, a lifestyle of irregular and occasional income sounds scary. And then I don't tell my parents when I spend time with my friends because they don't know them. If I'm worried about someone or helping someone else, if I met someone new or went on a date, it's nothing we've ever discussed before. It's hard to even talk about how I've been keeping busy The thing is, I'm really involved in those small things I've been doing, but it's hard to explain without the proper context. I have a lot of eggs in a lot of baskets and I'm trying to see what works out, but it's really hard to see if you're not here. And I think details are boring. Crucial, but boring. And I think it goes both ways. I don't really know my parents' friends, pastimes and passions anymore. When my dad had severe health problems I was the last to know because they didn't want to worry me. Or when my dog died. Or when my mom had her issues. I'm with my family in spirit but in ways we grew apart. I'm not the same person I was ten years ago and I don't care to go back. While a "homeland" is a nice idea and I always say how if it wasn't for my mobility issues I'd never leave I don't ever think of going back. My life is here. When I was visiting Warsaw two months ago, my mom said, "We need to get to know each other all over again". And that's the truth. Calling home starts to resemble more talking to a distant relative you see once every fifteen years and who only asks about health and deaths in the family. When I was moving here that was the one thing about immigrants that I didn't understand. How they're not home here or there, stuck between two lives as I believed  I'd never happen to me. I thought  it's a cultural divide or the language barrier and it happens to people of the older generation who are almost frozen in their time. I'm hip and modern  and sociable. We have email and Skype. I'd never happen to me. But it is happening. I may be younger, but as I age I find less things to talk about. Speaking Polish makes me feel more and more uncomfortable as if I'm judged on my grammar and a person talking to me is waiting on me to interject some English slang. Calling home gets harder and harder. And it's not that I don't want to keep in touch. Maybe it's just a part of life.

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