Leaving things behind

I am currently reading, Overseas American: Growing Up Gringo in the Tropics by Gene H. Bell-Villada.  It is a very personal account of a difficult childhood.  Throughout the book he quotes from other books about TCK’s and Global Nomads.

“The Absentee American belongs to no culture, or perhaps to all cultures… To the Absentee American, all countries, including the United States, are ‘foreign.’  By the same token any country can be ‘home.’ “– Carolyn D Smith, the Absentee American

“Reentry is a significant event for the Absentee American; the experience may be vividly recollected decades later.  Respondents described reentry as difficult, painful, turbulent, or traumatic… The experience is often referred to as a shock.. . In professional literature on the subject, this transition is generally referred to as euphoria, irritability, hostility, gradual adjustment, and adaptation.”  — Carolyn D Smith, the Absentee American

When I first saw these quotes, I went looking among my books for the Absentee American, Hidden Immigrants, Letters Never Sent, and Strangers at Home.  All books I knew I had read and was sure I had.  Then I remembered.  No I didn’t.

While I was living in Russia, I discovered there was a label for people like me – Third Culture Kid, or Global Nomad – and I wanted to read everything I could get my hands on about it.  I accumulated a small library and I poured over them and re-read them.  It was my great moment of self discovery.

My apartment in Moscow had a long hallway with floor to ceiling bookcases along one side.  They were full of books, music CD’s, videos, and a few knick knacks.  My special TCK books were prominently displays on those bookcases.

After almost nine years living as an expat in Moscow, we unexpectedly had to leave quickly.  My husband, son, and I landed back in the USA with six suit cases.  Everything else, all the things we had accumulated over nine years of life remained in Moscow.  At the time those things were the least of my problems.  I had never grown particularly attached to “things” and didn’t think much of it.  It is only now, ten years later, that I find myself thinking, “what ever happened to…?”  or  ” I sure wish I had….”.  Most everything was replaceable, of course, but some of these books in particular are now out of print, expensive and hard to find.  It would be nice to have them to refer to as I work on my book, but not necessary.

As Linda over at Adventures in Expat Land  says, flexibility is key!