Expats differ very much in the relations they have with their home and adopted countries. Blogger Kristina discovers that some of the threads that connect her to Lithuania grow on her head.
One of the standard questions I always get asked when meeting new people is ‘so, are you planning on moving back to Lithuania?’ There’s no malice in that question, only conversational curiosity. But I always get flustered over it – because of fears, expectations, uncertainties. The usual answer? ‘Someday’.
People living abroad have widely different relations to their home countries. You have the real citizens of the world, moving from one place to another and feeling comfortable wherever they are. They might as well not have a nationality at all. Then there are those who are painfully from a particular place, but who would rather have nothing to do with it. They dislike or even openly hate where they come from, saying things like ‘I’m never ever getting back there’. And then you have the ones who can’t seem to let go of their home country, one feet here and one feet there, mostly indifferent but sometimes hostile towards their current foster country.
I mostly find it hard to relate to the latter two groups. No one could blame me for not really living in the Netherlands – come on, I went to ‘s-Hertogenbosch last week specifically for Jheronimus Bosch exhibition! I’d also never belittle Lithuania; in fact, I’ve grown more patriotic over the years. But I also try not to sugarcoat when talking about it.
While admiring those cosmopolitan citizens of the world, I don’t mind Lithuania having a different status in my list of countries. But I’d rather it be my own choice to go back and not just the easiest option – or a way out. My choice to contribute to making it better.
Only I feel that for that to really be the case eventually, I might have to move even further away (metaphorically). What does it tell you that during all this time living abroad I only went to a hairdresser when on holiday in Lithuania? That I visited a dentist abroad only once and only because I had lost a filling right before exam week? It’s not just me: I know people fly back home (?) for a regular medical check-up. Or have freezers full of brought over meats and breads and whatnot. Convenience, nostalgia, prejudice – whatever the reasons these things might be very difficult to change.
And yet – my hair is getting uncomfortably long and I’m not sure I could stand it much longer. It might be high time to cut some of those ties.