Hanging Up the Ol’ Hat

Due to no travel-drought, I assure you. In the past two years, all I’ve done is travel, actually: to and from California, birthplace of my soul; to London for Thanksgiving in 2014; back to Portland, Maine, for a graduation; to the Dominican Republic for my cousin’s wedding; on a cruise through the Caribbean—through Haiti, Jamaica, and Cozumel—for another cousin’s wedding; to Romsey for a best friend’s wedding; to Guatemala, in 2015 and this year for two more weddings (so many weddings); to DC to visit the best friend; to St. Petersburg, Florida, this passed Memorial Weekend; and, in about a week, California again. Though I’m never sated, I’ve feasted.

Mostly, the charm of the word ‘expat’ has expired. When I was in school in Britain, the term had this allure, this adventure to it—and now I’m finding it more imperialist than anything (fitting). Basically, I sounded like a pretentious dickhead.

Not only am I now rooted in New York City, of which I’ve been a resident the longest since leaving the nest in 2007, but my view of how I belong to this world has changed. I’ve devoted a large part of the past two—almost three—years here to the study of what it means to be a migrant, and the juxtapositions between ‘immigrant,’ ‘migrant,’ ‘refugee,’ ‘expat.’ Where are those lines drawn and where does one apply but not the other? I see the mosaic of people here, from here, from everywhere else – we built this town. We are a permeable tribe. My boyfriend (the Staten Island native) calls me a New Yorker now because I know where to stand on the subway. I also live in a prewar building, with a fire escape he uses as the Smoking section; I take the train over the Manhattan Bridge every day; I hike to do laundry; I have an apartment full of secondhand furniture and commandeered plants; my sidewalk velocity is the norm only in New York City, and freakishly urgent everywhere else. I’m a New Yorker now.

In my next project, I’ll be exploring themes of migration, origin, habitat, and safety. The next chapter in travel is destination. Visit my new home, HAVEN.


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