Friday, June 05, 2009

In Limbo.

Is it possible to be homesick for a place in which you never grew up? Is it possible to be more at home in an adopted country than your own? It's been over a month now since I packed up my London life and returned to Montreal, ostensibly forever, but initially at least to pursue a master's degree at a university I can actually afford. I had high hopes and big plans for my return to Canada. I was going to put the knowledge I had gained and the confidence I had developed into living a full and exciting life here, the country to which so many people are desperate to emigrate and in which I was fortunate enough to be raised. I was going to stand in wide open spaces and breathe deeply, enjoy the buzz of life in a city that is vibrant and active but small and friendly, meet new people and forge new alliances, finish my degree and set up a life for myself that was comfortable but never boring.

And yet.

That feeling, that haunting, nagging feeling that ate away at me in the years before I ever moved to London has returned. This is not where I belong. The people I have met, the places I have seen, the stories I have heard. All of them warm, pleasant and welcoming. But as alien to me as if they had come from the moon.

The French have a word for it that has no direct English equivalent: dépaysagement. Loosely translated, it means feeling removed from your own country, placed in an environment that feels foreign in appearance and culture. When I look around me today I see houses, streets and shops that have mostly remained the same for as long as I can remember, and they comfort me. The people, however, are what make me question my ties to this place. The more of them I speak to, the less I feel that I have a typically "Canadian" outlook on life. My priorities, my interests, my tastes, are shared by few here. The easy answer, of course, is that not everybody has the same interests, and that every country is swarming with people whose preoccupations are not those of the majority. But what happens when what makes you happy is specifically found somewhere else? What are you supposed to do with your life when your family is in one corner of the world and your heart is in another?

I cannot believe that I already want to go back. I am furious and heartbroken at the same time.


At June 18, 2009 10:22 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So glad you're blogging properly again. I almost forgot how incredibly well you write. And so sorry to hear you're heartbroken. Truly hope things get better. If not, well, I suppose that means a re-think in a year's time?

- Fidgity McManus' other half

At June 18, 2009 4:53 pm, Blogger Lady M said...

Hurrah, a comment from Mrs McManus! Lovely to hear from you - I'm enjoying the old blogging again after all these months away. It's amazing how taking a step back from the 9-to-5 frees up your time for this sort of thing.

Am feeling decidedly more cheerful than when I wrote this post, but I am always up for a rethink about where I live. Hopefully getting this master's will help me get a better paying job so I can avoid future dodgy landlords and tiny flats with wonky boilers!


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