I believe in voluntary exile

Bernardo - Fontana, California
Entered on June 24, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: change, place

Some do it for a hopeful mirage of a better life. Some do it for the prospect of liberty or running away from many forms of evil. Some do it for the thrill of discovery and the spirit of adventure. All in all, there is no single most-powerful reason why people leave their place of origin and migrate.

There is a constant and non-negotiable condition to migrate away from home, and that is the eternal search to FIND ONE’S PLACE.

In my case I received a job offer in the mail, asked my family if they would pack their lives along with me and move to the great lakes, leaving behind a comfortable mid-class life, family, friends, life as it was.

And so we arrived and rented a place and started to build our understanding of this new world including language, habits, food, winter, distance. And so we moved around twice again to different countries within the same nation… from the mid-west to the deep south and then to the west coast and every time, there was a new beginning, a new code of conduct, a new distance.

We have known many individual characters and many community bodies that have transformed the way we look at people, at places and at life. We have all made and lost friends due to our constant moving target condition, but we have received and given a lot of love in the way.

Then the entire family became international travelers, part because we could finally afford it but mainly because it was the next obligatory step since we have come this far. As we kept missing our older existence, we also fell in love with our new land and its cities and fields. We had broken the shell and were out to our own.

I believe in voluntary exile as a form of rebellion against one’s own status-quo, against a foreseeable future and against the inevitable “what if?”. It is through removing our existence from its original envelope that it can become truthful and reflective of what one is. The immigrant becomes a landscaper and not part of the landscape, so to speak.

And so I believe in the power of luggage and how it confines the amount of transportable property to memories and mementos that build the real core of every one. I believe there is a fraction of family, of nation, of homeland, of past that is tingling in the back of our throats, but it is the addiction to the new beginning what keeps every immigrant alive and believing that some day we will arrive to that special place we can call our OWN.