- Where are you from?
-I was born in Germany.
-But you are from Huelva in Spain, right?
-No, my family is from Huelva. I normally say I am from Seville because I started being my own person when I went to study in Seville. But I am not from Seville either.
-C’mon. You are from Huelva, you just don’t want to admit it.
-I cannot say I am from a place I don’t feel inside.
My friend Ana is from Huelva., I met her in London, and she thinks I am just a snob.
But I am not.
I felt out of place since I was a child, like I had been born on the right place - Germany - and then repotted into the wrong one - Spain -.
I remember having shivers inside when looking at pictures of me I didn’t remember to have lived: me as a child childhood walking in the snow, or surrounded by colourful kids in green gardens had nothing to do with the flatness of the South of Spain. No wonder the first booklet I wrote was called: “The lost winter”/
I always felt I didn’t belong in Spain. Imagine a child under the scorching Spanish sun melancholilly reading E.A. Poe, Stoker, Shelley, H.Ch. Andersen…Nope, that didn’t help for my integration in a cheerful society where soon I was labelled as “deep” (aka boring).
Feeling out of place in a different country is not a good feeling, but having that feeling in your own country is even worse.
I tried to fit, really, I learnt to dance flamenco, I learnt the lyrics of popular songs and tried to do and look like any other person around me, not to stand out. By hiding this way, I was hiding my discomfort, my shame for feeling so so out of place, for being so wrong. I felt I had to disguise, blend, do as others do, don’t stick out too much while I was there, at not my home.
In the place where I grow up, it was not difficult to stick out. And it was not good either.
I was round 6 when I reached the conclusion that since I didn’t ft in, that had to be because I “was” German, and so I held unto my need to be and feel different : I wanted to be different because I didn’t fit in. Or I didn’t fit in, so it made sense that I was different.
But I wasn’t German.
“Home, I have no home…Haunted, despised, living like an animal, the jungle is my home”.
This wonderful quote passionately recited by Bela Lugoshi in Bride of the Monster (Ed Wood, 1955), have become almost an anthem for me.
“Where are you from?”
These words can mean curiosity, genuine interest. They can also mean” “You are other than me” or “Your home is not here”.
Such a big separation…
These words can build bridges or create barriers. There is your place: where you come from, and my place: the place we are in now.
They can also mean the meeting of strangers, in which case neither of them are at home, they are meeting in a foreign place…
But, what if the foreign place is the one where you are supposed to belong?
A couple of years ago, I had just spent some months in Reykjavik, then went back to my flat in London for some weeks and then to Sofia for some days, back to London before travelling to Spain to visit my parents.
The first morning I woke up at my parent’s house, my first thought was:
“Where I am and what language do I need to speak?
As an adult, I have moved many times . My spaces and times look like this:
Bad Schwalbach - Huelva and Seville - Cluj Napoca - Tokyo- Cordoba - Springen - Barcelona - New York - London - Reykjavik/London
I wonder if by moving every few years, I am giving food to the unconscious side of me that jumps into the difficult, the exhausting, the demanding, that side of me that wants to feel perpetually out of place. Maybe.
Or maybe all these places are customes to hide that I feel often inadequate.
I am grateful for having lived in so many different places (and counting), I am grateful for every life I have had in these places.
Every one of them has seen me grow, fail, cry, enjoy. every place has given me loneliness, bliss, isolation, connection, and every place, experience, lesson and people iare now part of me.
An immigrant? No. A nomad? Maybe. A traveller looking for my own land, my inner atlas.
But still there is the longing, there is the thirst, the hollow space, the silence in the house. The house, but not the home.