Who Am I? (The Third Culture Kid)
Or even fourth or fifth culture kid… This is the internationally accepted term for children who have spent a significant portion of their formative years in cultures different from their own, or their parents. I didn’t know I was one while I was growing up – now I am raising a couple of my own. Personally, I much prefer the term ‘global nomad’ – has more of a glamorous ring to it, doesn’t it? But what I do have is that feeling of fragmentation: I do not have a solid, whole concrete façade, but am made up of so many different little pebbles of influence.
I used to think moving on is a blessing,
the moved upon powerless and grieving.
Head down, I’d prepare for exit and re-entry, again, and again,
glad to be the one gathering no moss.
But ultimately revenge is theirs:
for they sprout roots, link up, grow together, form tissue
richly alive with many shared hours and insights and tales.
All the shortcuts roll glib off their tongues,
always creating and leading their own trend,
while the mover is running to catch up, to fuddle,
stuck in the language of past generations,
never quite getting the nuance, the slang.
See that flying line of geese? There’s one just off,
destroying the symmetry of their formation.
I fear I am something of a disappointment:
not enough of a glamour-bird when you want to preen with me,
yet not sufficiently aligned and meek.
My ducks in a row askew,
so easy to shoot at, and never enough time
I’ve learnt to hide my real thoughts
my own thoughts
I’ve learnt a short answer to the question:
‘Where are you from?’, tinged with just enough humour
and self-deprecation to disarm and charm.
Who am I?
I am all that is half-forgotten,
I am all the places in which I’ve left my heart.
I am all that is buried deep inside and want to excavate no more.
I am all that I dare not show you
for fear that you will drown.