Monday, February 17, 2014

Shape Shifter: My Divided Heart

I have thought often of a post I read once about circles, squares, and triangles. It wasn't a post on teaching my children shapes or a post on any "mommy blog" for that matter. Actually while the sound of these shapes sounds very elementary, child-like even, I assure you the idea behind the post is not so simple. Here is a synopsis of the Shape Shifting post:
Circle Citizens live in a place where their culture and language and holidays and traditions are very specific to their Circle Citizen Country.  
Across an ocean or imaginary border live the Square Society, a place with its own culture and language and holidays and traditions. No better or worse than Circle Citizens just different. Totally different. 
One day, a Circle decides to go live in the society of Squares. Fitting into Square's society isn't easy with their totally different culture and language and holidays and traditions but Circle tries to adapt as best it can. Eventually Circle feels more comfortable with this new way of life but they will never truly be a Square. At the same time, Circle is now also losing some of their "Circleness."   
Not a full Circle anymore and never a complete Square, this shape shifts to something completely different: a Triangle. 
 This is me. 

A triangle. It is exciting and sad to talk about. Exhilarating and heartbreaking to think about.  

I love my New Jersey upbringing. I love the United States in a way that some still living their probably never will. I still believe in its possibility, its goodness, its "American Dream." Call me a romantic or a glutton for punishment but I always believe that America will be better. Do better. Vote better. Live better. 

But I have now lived in another country - Dominican Republic - for 3 years. I'm no longer a "newbie" here. I know the quickest way to the supermarket from my house. I drive down one way streets like the rest of the locals. I buy avocados from the avocado guy on the street and tell him to sell me a good one with the seriousness of a Cuban grandmother. I speak as much of my second language as I do my first. 
My children were born on this ground, this soil, this island. 
Married a mere month before I left the hustle of the Jersey Shore for the ebb and flow of the Caribbean Sea, I would never know life in the States as a married woman and mother. I was many things in the first phases of my life in the U.S.: a daughter, a kid, a student, a teenager, a college graduate, a single lady, a girlfriend, a fiancĂ©e, a girl from NJ. But these two titles of wife and mother, this newest phase, would be reserved for a different place, across an ocean. Saying I do was only the beginning.

It is a very bitter-sweet thing to know that my heart will never now belong to one soil. Unfalteringly loyal, having my heart divided in between two places that both beat through my veins makes me feel like a fraud, a cheater. But it's the reality of life now. I watch my son crawl around on the earth - and sometimes eat that earth too - in order to learn how to walk. I watch my daughter rejoice in the sound of salsa music and know that they will love this place for the rest of their lives for a decision that their father and I made before they were ever even born. And because they will always feel a bond to this island, so will I.

You can go home again... it'll just never be the same as when you left it.

Thanks to In an Opal Hearted Country for organizing the February Expat Blog Challenge opportunity.
Day 16: Respond: "It is a bitter-sweet thing knowing two cultures. One you leave your birthplace nothing is ever the same." - Sarah Turnbull

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