I’ve lived in Australia all my life, and it’s a beautiful country, but it has never quite felt like home. I don’t know that anywhere would. I’ve got my ancestral culture on the one hand: rich, both deeply joyful and sad, mine. And on the other I have the mainstream white culture of this country: brash and casual, friendly and strong. If I try to move into one more than the other, I feel like a stranger. I don’t belong anywhere.
I only speak English, and my mother gets sad because I can’t understand, feels bad because my non-English education stopped and started (no one’s fault, really, it just happened like that, and I’ve got little talent with languages other than English). If language informs the way we think, I’m struggling with ways of being in the world I can’t quite articulate and therefore can’t quite realise. Yet I don’t quite have the knack with white, Western ways either.
Two cultures, two senses of time, two ways to use my hands in conversation, two ways of talking, two ways of being.
I don’t belong anywhere, so I try to belong in myself. But we need people, we need people to tell ourselves to, share experience, build culture. ‘Do you feel it this way? Do you feel it, too? What does this mean to you? Do our minds work the same way, have I absorbed ways of thought as you have, as everyone else has?’ Culture is built together, and we must relate it to each other. So I have to risk branching out. I find community where I can.