I remember flying back from Freiburg to New York for my college graduation in 2003.
It had only been 3 months since I’d left America for Europe, but I already knew that I’d a deep desire and was going to stay for longer than just a study abroad semester.
It wasn’t quite then that I’d labeled myself as an expatriate, but rather the following summer. My friend Max Winter from the Philosophie Falkutät had gifted me a copy of THE SUN ALSO RISES auf deutsch, wherein Hemingway writes:
“You’re an expatriate. You’ve lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed with sex. You spend all your time talking, not working. You are an expatriate, see? You hang around cafes.”
And so I lived the life of an expatriate, first in Freiburg, and then in London. When my short stint came in an end in 2006, I knew that I’d always be back. Not necessarily to Germany or England, but expat life in some capacity.
My strong desire to uproot and leave everything behind first manifested itself when I was a young girl, yearning to leave New York City for the suburbs of Monmouth County, New Jersey, or even better – southern California. Not quite the emigration that I still long for today, but still noteworthy.
I suppose and wonder if the need to be anywhere but here has to do with my parents’ strong heritage as immigrants. They believed that leaving home and everything that was familiar was the key to building a better life – abroad.
Or perhaps more simply put (ha), in a Heideggerian sense of ontological being: the personal identity of uprooting and as expatriate has always already been part of my being.