The Pull of the Homeland

The Pull of the Homeland

Alexandra Hidalgo

I have lived in the States longer than in my country of origin. I came here as a teenager, young enough to be shaped by what I was experiencing here at a very formative level. And yet, it is my homeland that defines me more than the States. There’s something about those childhood years, the smells, the tastes, the friends I still cling to through Facebook and Skype, the ways in which the language got entangled in my brain. Even though I think in English all day long and remember my dreams in English, my husband tells me that when I talk in my sleep the words slip out in Spanish. My mind, perhaps tired of its daytime love affair with a foreign language, spends the nights in the arms of the first sounds that I ever turned into words and sentences.

As American as I often feel, I will always be a foreigner as well. It’s a double life that I’m happy to live, one foot here and another far away, a blend of two cultures where the first one, even though it is the most distant, is forever sneaking back and defining who I am, often without me even noticing that that’s the case. It’s a complexity that makes my life exciting, complicated, and beautiful and that I hope makes those around me see things in new ways from time to time.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Dear fellow American. It has been almost thirty years since I left my homeland and I first went back for a visit after fourteen years from the time of my departure. Years have felt like minutes and the definition of one’s identity is a topic I debated for so long and such depth that I see myself as an expert on the subject without any formal credentials.
    The pull of the homeland is the strongest of all and can only be surpassed by the love for one’s children. I lost both and know the depth of each. I still ask myself: “Would I ever recover from the loss of my homeland?” “Can I live happy old days without all the places, smells, tastes, and sounds I experienced as a child?” “Is the imprinting similar to that of the salmon fry pulled back to their native stream by forces that challenge even the most basic survival instincts?” Or will my love for my children keep me in the States for reliving their memories and their childhood? Do we really live through our children? How can our genes be so intricately connected to our love for a place?
    In an attempt to answer all these questions and others I decided to start over! From scratch. In a third country, a new language, a new culture… a new life! Will I be forced to go back to my homeland or to my children’s land or survive the ordeal of such an adventure and become a borderless citizen anew? Only time will tell…

  2. Thank you for sharing your story, Adam. We will be posting this on the main Stories page for others to view.

Comments are closed.