On moving and moving again

I didn’t move much when I was young. I was often envious to see other friends moving to a new house. Perhaps it was just my desire to have my own room that is not full of family stuff. I guess it was a good thing, though, not having to move and having a stable place to stay. I was probably naive or pure enough to think that having a new place was fun, thanks to the detachment from the adult-world that deals with finances and other difficult social circumstances.

At 18, I started living in a dorm room with 3 other people, one of whom I became a great friend with. All my belongings fit into 2 boxes and my mental awareness towards home was still quite clear. Yet it was only the beginning of the countless moving. No one warned about the burden of moving being the part of an adult life. We talk about jobs, relationship, and security, but moving never seemed to get a big break into a new category. Perhaps it is understood as a process of transition that does not deserve much attention compared to the “products” of the transition.

Since 20, the moving between blocks and cities has expanded to borders exposing myself to new environments with 2 boxes of stuff. Ever since, it never stopped. My life in 2 boxes with which I flew from Australia to Rwanda, Malawi, then Belgium. Moving to countries of the world were nothing different from moving to different cities. World was my arena, my opportunity.

Here I am at my 30, at which point I wish I had a place to call home that is not in the air. I long for my anchor to seize the gravity and take root in a reasonably pleasant place. Is it so hard? I have the dilemma that comes up at every conjuncture of my migrating life. Stay or leave? Stay, to give more warmth to my relationship. Leave, to make myself useful and bring food on the table. Sometimes it’s the other way around.

The choice. Multiple years of my and someone’s life are rushed into a decision based on a 1 year excerpt of living. We measure the possibilities. Exchange the assurance and doubts of positive outcomes.

The fatigue. I figure what goes into my boxes that are a suitcase now. I measure the weight of my life. Check in. Endure the day sitting in a seat. Claim. Headache. That’s it, I’m on a different page now.

It became an enduring, rather than arriving. It became a leaving, not changing. Having became spending. My choosing of going everywhere to be free eventually meant muddling through the unordered rules of the world in which I constantly redefine my own identity.

Ni hao at me?

I was walking down the street this morning to get a nice cup of coffee in an environment that’s more vibrant than my room, when I saw a man giving direction to a group of young men who left in hurry. The friendly looking man was wearing a flash orange uniform with his presumably cleaning materials in the cart he was pulling. When I was almost walking past him, he looked at me and said ni hao with his hands politely folded. His smile and polite gesture pleased me, and yet I said “Oh I’m not Chinese.” He didn’t seem to understand English, though. After a moment, I started thinking why I had to say that. I could have greeted him nicely because I kind of felt pleasant with his gesture somehow. I know that it can be often called racism in some context when people just assume who you are based on the look or inaccurate interpretation of the look. Saying ‘ni hao’ instead of ‘goede morgen’ when he obviously could do it can sound a bit wrong. Still, I hated that I had to say who I’m not or who I am at the genuinely-felt greeting.
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