When I was finally 18 and at home from my first semester of college I told my parents I wanted to try alcohol. It wasn’t planned, it just came out – it was time. All my friends were fairly deep into their drinking careers having started much earlier, 14 to 16 being about the norm for most Third Culture Kids.
I’ve landed, but where am I? In German, to arrive, “ankommen,” is understood to be a longer process, one that could take days or weeks.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified going into the reunion: I was jobless, husbandless, childless, petless, and I hadn’t even found a cure for cancer!
Now it’s quarter-life crisis #2. Having just been laid-off, I began re-prioritizing my life. This was an opportunity of a lifetime. With my 100 hour work weeks, I used to dream about what I would do if I could just take one day off.
Getting laid-off is not ideal, but I quickly realized that it answered my long time desire for (temporary) “early retirement” and an escape from a job that I was miserable at. The minute I entered my apartment, I tossed all my papers aside and jumped on my computer, immediately logging onto all the travel sites I could find.
Nancy Drew never solved a mystery by googling it, let’s keep the TCK identity mysterious.
While I can certainly see the death of Bin Laden as retribution and understand the solace it brings, it doesn’t make me want to shout “U-S-A!” or belt “God Bless America”. It doesn’t send me scurrying to don my most patriotic red, white, and blue ensemble. It doesn’t make me high-five guys or pop champagne. This wasn’t a sports victory or the Fourth of July.
Other TCKs may declare, with varying degrees of bravado, how an almost insatiable wanderlust propels them to exotic locations around the globe. In my case, the impetus was a critical need to flee the scene and rebuild.
Considering my eight years growing up in Asia were characterized by a feeling of foreignness, it is ironic that returns to the region are characterized by a deep feeling of homecoming. It seems like something akin to Stockholm Syndrome – you adore the very presence that hurt you so much at the time.
A terse U.S. immigration officer informs me of a mistake on my form – after a year and a half studying in China, my country of residence is no longer the USA. I apologize as she grunts and waves me through. I feel very welcomed.