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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Marriott of Belonging

These moments are unpredictable. I tell everyone who comes, whether a veteran of airport Chinese food and uncomfortable seats or just cutting their teeth on an explosion of flavours and sounds, that these days will come. They smile and carry on living life while I worry that they won't be able to manage when it does hit. I forget that I'm the one who struggles.

Today it was a 3-second shot of a Marriott Courtyard hotel. I was watching Sully, a very well-done movie, and when the camera panned out to show the hotel, for a moment I felt homesick. It's a strange feeling to hit right now, as I'm making plans to stay here past my one-year call. The past three weeks, I've been content in knowing that I'm doing what will bring me joy. Then this.

I miss my brother, mother, and sister. I miss the smell of sawdust, country music, and grilled corn. I miss driving down the freeway, not a car in sight, singing at the top of my lungs along with Mandisa. I miss being in the familiar. I miss Friday morning breakfasts with Sherry, Indian buffet with Stanly, and Pinkberry with Stephanie. I miss living in a house, preparing a meal for people I love, and sitting down to eat it with them. I miss seeing my mom fall asleep on a Sabbath afternoon on one of the 2 sofas we and my brother fight over. I miss Vegenaise, Chao cheese, and making recipes that turn out perfectly.

I'm thankful to be here. I love this country and my heart has found its home in precious people here. I have been able to employ the TCK superpower to disconnect from countries so I don't cry myself to sleep missing my family or get frustrated with time zones that prevent us from connecting in real-time. I'm trying my hardest to stay here long-term, even as I contemplate assuming citizenship of a country that I could never fully understand just so I can leave it and settle down here.

Then I think, I could just leave at the end of the one-year call. I could step on a plane and return back to a world where I can at least survive even if my soul is slowly dying. I could leave this country behind and once again try to forget. I don't want to. I just don't know if I have the choice. Or if it will make a difference to those I care about the most. I don't want to be just like all the other ones who came for a year or two and then left. I want to become a part of the fabric of this country and slip into belonging. This is what my heart searches for.

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