Homesickness and other problems with being stateless

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drmoss_ca
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Homesickness and other problems with being stateless

Post by drmoss_ca »

I read in another thread about how someone was going to England for a visit. I would have envied the poster, were it not for the Essex-ization of the English and the now-ubiquitous estuary English. I read the other day of a study that revealed that 20% of the time that an Englishman might have been expected to say "Thank you" he now says "nice one". I shuddered on reading this, and wondered how many of them even understand that the phrase originated in 1973 with a pop song about a footballer?

It's a strange thing to ponder, but emigrants look back on their homeland in peculiar ways. When I came to Canada in 1985 there was talk among the emigrés about 'The Cure' - which referred to the homesickness that would be cured by the first visit back to the UK. It worked for me, even though I have only been back for three weekend visits over the last 26 years. But this makes me think of a related problem on a smaller scale: that of belonging to one's community. I have lived this last 26 years in a small rural community in Nova Scotia. Not one person born here would regard me as anything except as a 'come from away' and rightly so. Being a retirement community with lots of CFAs from our provincial capital, the CFAs are regarded as being prone to wanting to improve the locals. They arrange a community arts centre, a new library, and a wind farm, and are hated for it. They don't want to fit in; they want to impose their values on the locals, and they are resented as a result. It seems to me to be a matter of manners to avoid this appalling imposition of ideas - 'we know better than you and you should thank us' is hardly a way to fit in. Any conversation I have had with the local populace confirms this - they hate being told what they should be by city folk who don't understand them.

It might be partly due to my job, which involves becoming part of the warp and weft of a community in order to get a feel for the lives of the individuals in it, but it seems to me that there is a great satisfaction for those who truly belong. Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to be a family doc in the Wiltshire village where I was born and spent my first 18 years, but even then I have to remember that my parents moved there only a few years before my birth and I was thus also a foreigner. When I went off to medical school in London and my parents moved from Wiltshire to west Wales they got a feel for this. There was a language barrier as well as a cultural one, never mind the in-group/out-group divide. They tried hard to fit in, and were welcomed by all who knew them, but would always be thought of as saesneg. That link will tell you what it is like to be one if you don't speak Welsh!

Is there anyone here who has been born and grown up in the community where he still lives - and do you know how lucky you are?

Chris
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Post by Squire »

Yes, my brother still resides on the homestead settled by my family 194 years ago, which does create a sense of continuity and belonging.
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Post by ThePossum »

I've spent the last 63 1/2 years in my hometown here is SW Pa. Well, I did take a 4 yr sabattical to attend college in the mid and late 60's but I got home at least once a month and during the summer. Yes, Chris I do know how lucky I am. And I would not move away for any money you can be sure.

My daughter could not wait to get out of our little town. She went to college at the University of Chicago, met a nice guy there, married him and they settled down in Chicagoland. She loves the big city. Me I like it but not for long. Great place to visit once in awhile but to me the place to live is the little town I was born in and still live in.
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Post by Baloosh »

Anyone who still regards a person/family as an "outsider" after 26 years in the same community, isn't someone I'm sure I'd want to congregate with, or feel part of the same "hometown" with.

That's just me, but I do understand what you're getting at. However, there are such things as limits... and if the hometown doctor still isn't "hometown" after 26 years, perhaps it's the "town's" fault, and nobody else's.
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Post by Sam »

I am 51, and have lived all of my live, and attended school, in Memphis, except for 18 months when I turned 10, we lived in Jacksonville, Florida. To me, Memphis seems like family, and I can't shake a stick and hit someone who does not know my family, or someone I went to school with. I can tell you how to get to just about any street in Memphis.

My daughter now lives in Atlanta, and the thing to her, she sees a vibrant community that she gets to learn. But Atlanta may be an exception as lots of young and urban kids seem to gravitate there, and do not mind the traffic.

I feel like my hometown is not an us-versus- them as far as outsiders, as it is much more to do about the haves and havenots. Seems like the middle class is being squeezed, as we are debating whether to feed school children from needy areas not only breakfast at school but dinner as well. Government leaders have told us that it is not much more money other than food costs as the labor is pretty much fixed, and they do not really change much even if we don't serve the dinner.
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Post by brothers »

This is a fascinating subject to consider. I was born in this city. Here's the big twist --- it's not the same city. The past is dead. The people, the nationalities, the infrastructure, the institutions, and the buildings, with very few exceptions, are not the same now as then. Who am I to even notice or pay attention to the likelihood that someone I come in contact with here has not lived here as long as I have. Only an idiot, or to put it delicately, someone with a "problem", would think of such a thing. It's not healthy. Chris, I'm sorry you have to deal with such an inane issue. Those people need to catapult themselves forward into reality. You and your family are part of the backbone of your community. Those who don't realize that are foolish.
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Post by drmoss_ca »

Gary,
I'm not dealing with an issue, just over-thinking about circumstances. After all, the unexamined life and all that...

Chris
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Post by brothers »

I see. Most likely you are more a part of your community than you imagine, and I have a hunch you'd be sorely missed if you took up residence elsewhere.
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Post by Kyle76 »

My ancestors in around 1820 came to the town where I was born, was raised and have lived, except for seven years of college and my early career. I have many friends here that I have known my entire life. My next-door neighbor until third grade lives across the street. There is a comfort knowing there are many lifelong friends on whom I can count. We have shared the joy of each others' families, and now our children are marrying and having children of their own, some here and some near or far away. To many, it may seem an unadventurous life, but it is very satisfying to me, and we've had our adventures along the way. For better or worse, I've never felt like an outsider.
Last edited by Kyle76 on Mon Dec 05, 2011 8:04 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by matt321 »

Good thread. I know some who still live in the same house they were born in, that their father was born in, that their grandfather built.

Some possible situations:
Left home, but would be welcomed back.
Left home, could go back but it just isn't the same now.
Left home, would not be welcomed back.
Left home, they hate me there now and it would not be safe to return.

I had a friend who escaped from the Iron Curtain in Germany with his parents when he was a child (~45 years ago). He decided to visit his home town recently. His dad warned him to be careful because there would still be serious smoldering issues. He would still be viewed as a traitor.
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Post by Quarterstick »

A sense of community and feeling connected to the people around you is important, but may not necessarily occur in the place you were born. I lived in the same area for roughly the first 2/3rds of my life, but the metropolitan areas of Florida typically do not have a strong sense of community. Everybody is from somewhere else and being a native is (or at least used to be) more of an anomaly than the norm.

Then I moved to Chicago, which is certainly no small town (as Bryce pointed out). Yet, as they say, Chicago is a city of neighborhoods and I was quickly welcomed into my neighborhood in a manner that I had not experience previously. Circumstances eventually led me to move to the suburbs and the community vibe was not to be found. That is until about a month ago when I moved to my new neighborhood. It may be too early to tell, but the early returns look promising.

It is my opinion that this phenomenon is due not so much to residing in your place of birth, but to an interaction between yourself and the other people where you live. If you come from elsewhere, are you willing to learn about, understand, and potentially incorporate the culture of an area? Are the people in that area welcoming, willing to share, and open to what you bring? Chris, from the little I know of you on the forum and from this post, I would guess you have more than met the criteria from your end. Rather it is the established residents, and as you point out not without cause, that are not particularly open to people who are not from the area. So even if you have been there for 26 years, you are still non-local and this colors how the locals treat you, intentionally or no.
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Post by rsp1202 »

<sigh>Been a long while since I felt grounded. This shaving stuff is one of the few things that makes me feel like a homeboy. Thanks for that.
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Post by churchilllafemme »

Sometimes we take our cultures with us. My family moved to southern California from Iowa when I was 2 years old. In the late 1950s, we went each year to the Long Beach Iowa picnic, where up to 100,000 former Hawkeyes gathered to share bandstand music, potato salad, and barbecue. And my parents co-founded a church with a dozen other couples, most of whom had also come from Iowa.
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Post by changabang »

Doc, have you given any thought to permanently moving back to the old sod? Maybe 26 years as an emigre is enough?
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Post by drmoss_ca »

I can't go back to the place I knew, as it will have changed unrecognisably in the interim. If I could go back to the time as well as the place, I'd be tempted. England feels like a foreign country to me now, I feel that nice 'home again' feeling when the plane lands on Canadian soil these days. I'm not complaining about the clannishness of the locals here: I approve of it in many ways. I just regret I don't have that sense of belonging and probably never will have.

Chris
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Post by changabang »

That's sad to me, especially since you crave to have a feeling of belonging. I've lived in this town all my life, except for time at the university and a stint in the army, but I've never much craved a sense of having belonged here. Sometimes it's good to be a semi recluse and live alone...and sometimes it's not.
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Post by water »

In my early twenties I moved to England for a year. Young and naive, I always imagined moving there and being welcomed "home". After all, my family tree is entirely English and I was born in Newfoundland, essentially a British colony until 1949 and a place that still flies the Union Jack over many buildings. It was a great disappointment and an awakening to find that almost nobody there even knew a place called Newfoundland existed. And they certainly did not see me as being in any way "one of them".

Despite all of that, I felt really "at home" during the years I lived there. I still feel a strong emotional attachment to the place and would move back tomorrow if I could convince my wife. Many no doubt consider that strange. It is not something I can easily explain. Is it some sort of link via ancestry? Does blood win out? Who knows?
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Post by jww »

Here is a bit of a variation on Chris' original theme.

I was born in Ottawa, then moved south west to Trenton at the age of 18 months when my father was still in the RCAF. Then, 2 years later, he was offered a posting in Calgary -- Mum refused to move there, so they took up sticks and moved to St. Catharines, Ontario, like many early-military "retirees" (code for didn't want to move) did in the early 60s. There Dad waited for the new GM factory to get finished and join up with the auto industry workforce which was being created. I grew up in St. Catharines -- and then at 23 took a job with a bank, which moved me first to Listowel (Ontario, that is), and then a year later --- to --- you guessed it ..... Ottawa, where we have lived for the past 26 years. Upon arrival here, we were fortunate to meet up with an old acquaintance of the family. She immediately put her arm around me and in her own personal way said to me "It's about time one of you lot returned home where you belong."

It's a funny/odd round-about way of saying I have the privilege of living where I was born without the "growing up here" bit. When we return to St. Catharines -- I have to admit a total feeling of I-do-not-belong-here. I always have -- even when I returned from living in Finland 1979-81.

But I do have to be honest, I consider myself incredibly fortunate to live where I live, have the family which I have, and to be blessed with abundance and love that I possess right here in our nation's capital.

Thanks for starting the thread, Chris. You helped to remind me how at home and in the right place I am - both physically and emotionally. I consider myself truly fortunate.
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Post by 95% »

"Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in."

Robert Frost, The Death of the Hired Man
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Post by jww »

95% wrote:"Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in."

Robert Frost, The Death of the Hired Man
Wonderful poem - one of my all-time favourite Frost poems.

The quote is accurate and true as well.
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