Longing (reprint)

This poem was published in the December 2015 issue of Among Worlds (first published on my blog in 2014).

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I long for something,

Without knowing what.

I long for somewhere,

without knowing where.

 

I long for change,

For that next adventure…

I’m restless and bored,

Ready to start somewhere new.

 

And yet I long to settle,

To put down roots.

To call some place home

And know it’s my own.

 

But where is that illusive home?

That place where I belong,

Where I am neither other

Nor outsider?

 

I am homesick,

But I don’t know for where…

For which country, which place,

Which home?

 

My heart aches,

Without knowing for what.

It longs for something

That I cannot define.

 

Such is the path

Of my third culture kid journey:

Sometimes confusing, often contradictory…

And forever longing.

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I’m From…

I’m from the warm Mediterranean Sea,

And the smell of fresh pines in the mountain.

 

I’m from lavender fields and vineyards,

And the ochre colored house.

 

I’m from bahebak, je t’aime,

I love you, te quiero and ti amo.

 

I’m from islands and continents,

From north to south and east to west.

 

I’m from all these places that hold my heart,

And from a home that’s rooted in love.

 


This post is inspired by a beautiful poem written by 10th grader and TCK Adelaide, shared by Marilyn at Communicating Across Boundaries. “The Language Arts teacher wanted them to write a poem introducing themselves to her and to the class. It was a simple assignment. Five short stanzas. Two lines each. Begin each stanza with, “I’m from…” (Click to see the entire post and read Adelaide’s touching poem about growing up between worlds)

If you liked Adelaide’s poem and my poem, here’s another one for you, courtesy of Tayo Rockson, who was also inspired by Marilyn’s post!

Feeling inspired? Please feel free to share your own I’m From poem in the comments, or if you write one on your own blog, I would love to link to it here!

Living In Between

In between worlds,

In between cultures,

In between languages,

In between moves,

In between homes.

Living in between.

 

Never fully belonging,

Just used to blending…

Like a chameleon.

Never one of them,

Always the ‘other’.

Living in between.

 

We are many things abroad:

Immigrant, expat, foreigner.

And many things at home:

Hidden immigrant, repat, foreigner.

How do you reconcile

Living in between?

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Living History – Normandy Landings

Seventy years ago, on the 6th of June 1944, the Allied Invasion of Normandy began.

Of all the countries I’ve lived in, none matches France in terms of seeing/living history. History in France is part of your every day life, whether you realize it or not. Roman ruins and aqueducts border rivers; Romanesque, medieval, gothic churches and architecture is side by side with modern and contemporary structures. Buildings and streets have plaques explaining which historical figure lived there or which battle it commemorates. Bunkers and war shelters remain from world wars, as do pockmarked lands that never recovered from bombings. Studying the world wars in France meant seeing parts of history with our own eyes, not just learning about them in class and reading about them in our books.

In 10th grade we visited the fields of the Somme – where thousands of soldiers were killed in the bloody trench warfare of World War I. The fields where red poppies bloom every year, said to be colored by the blood of the fallen. There were no grandiose cemeteries or monuments here – simply fields of white stones set in the lush green grass and a few wildflowers. Unfortunately I have no photos of our visit to the Somme, but the image remains clear in my mind, as if I saw it yesterday. I recall the reconverted bomb shelters – now a museum with artifacts and documents, to give an idea of what it was like in those underground tunnels. But mostly I recall seeing those green fields with stark white crosses, under a blue sky with the sun passing behind the drifting, fluffy white clouds, as we drove by in our bus. I sometimes wonder why I remember it so clearly, but something about the natural beauty and simplicity of those fields touched me.

Later that same school year, while we were studying WWII, we spent a few days in Normandy. After that visit I returned twice more to Normandy and every time I was awed by the living history I could view with my own eyes. I remember that our first stop was Arromanches – the beach where the Allies built Mulberry harbor, the floating harbor used to land the troops and equipment in Normandy. There are still parts of the harbor standing today. Seventy years later, and we can see still parts floating a distance away from the beach. And to help you visualize it better, there is a museum near the beach that has a full replica model of the harbor… Although nothing beats seeing the actual remains. Yes, it is technically simply debris floating in the ocean, but imagine the circumstances in which it got there. Remember all the history and stories behind it. If you’re still not awed after that, I don’t know what to do with you.

While we were in Normandy, we also visited a small town called Saint-Mère-Eglise, where parachutists landed and many lost their lives. One parachutist got caught on a church steeple, stuck there until the Germans cut him down and took him prisoner. He later escaped and rejoined his regiment, but the town has kept a mannequin parachutist hanging off the steeple since. It is a tribute to the fallen and the town’s way of commemorating the event. A medieval church, with a WWII parachutist hanging on it – history clashes, mingles and reconstructs itself in France. It never ceases to amaze me.

I continued to be amazed and awestruck as we visited the wide, flat expanse of Omaha beach, imagining all those soldiers seeking cover where there is none. I was moved and overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of crosses and tombstones at the American cemetery. It is a beautiful and peaceful place, with pines lining a path overlooking the ocean and Omaha beach. There are walls of commemorations, maps showing the invasion and numbers of how many were lost. It is lush and green, with stark white stones, but there are no wildflowers here. It is a tidy, man-kept beauty, less wild and simple than the Somme. It is not more or less beautiful, simply different.

And finally we visited Pointe du Hoc. I think I was most touched and moved by this place during our Normandy visit. Pointe du Hoc is a cliff top, overlooking the ocean. There are no easy climbs or soft slopes to the top – just sheer edges and rugged cliffs. At the top of the cliffs there is barbed wire – a lot of barbed wire. The cliff top is riddled with craters created by shelling. Deep, large craters now covered in grass, but forever part of the landscape. There are bunkers and bomb shelters that you can enter, being careful about the barbed wire that is still present in many areas. The wind from the ocean blows hard and adds to the sad beauty of the landscape. It is a place I like best when there are few people and little man-made noise. There is something infinitely sad yet peaceful about that ravaged landscape, with the sound of the waves crashing against the cliffs below and the wind lifting my hair around my face. It is truly a place of living history, although so many died on both sides to protect it, capture it and liberate it.

There is obviously so much more to Normandy than the D-Day landings, but the occasion called for these particular memories. On this 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings I felt compelled to share some of my memories and experiences there. There is something so incredible about visiting historical places and touching a piece of history. My visit to Normandy was the first time I really understood that and it was a powerful lesson.


You know there is a saying

That sunshine follows rain,

And sure enough you’ll realize

That joy will follow pain.

Let courage be your password,

Make fortitude your guide;

And then instead of grousing,

Just remember those who died.

This is the final stanza of an anonymous poem that was found written on the wall of a solitary confinement cell at Dulag Luft, where most captured Allied airmen (in WWII) were sent for interrogation before being assigned to a permanent POW camp.

“If You Wish to be a Writer, Write…”*

Twenty-nine years. I don’t know exactly how many of those have been spent writing, but I know it’s many of them.

I started keeping my first diary in elementary school and although my writing notebook isn’t a diary it’s still a journal of sorts. I don’t remember when I wrote my first poem but I know for sure that I have been writing poetry since middle school. Many of the themes are still the same – love, nature, growing up a Third Culture Kid… Although the way I write about them has definitely evolved and matured since those first poems!

I’ve written for a long time and I hope to keep writing for much longer. It brings me a joy and a comfort that I don’t often find elsewhere… And writing has carried me through many ups, downs and transitions. This blog is proof of that as I started it after one of my biggest transitions, and it has been a constant source of inspiration and comfort. It has kept me busy and connected, at a time when I felt otherwise idle and lonely. It has opened the door to many wonderful people and many unexpected opportunities.

Writing continues to be such a source of joy and I hope it always will be. Thank you for following me on my journey. Thank you for your support, your company, your comfort and your inspiration.

Here’s to many more years of writing – about love, nature, being a Third Culture Kid and everything else in between.

“You can make anything by writing.”  C.S. Lewis

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(* Epictetus)

Who I Am

I am a third culture kid.

Of that I will never be rid.

 

I’ve grown up among worlds,

Like many other boys and girls.

 

I am made up of one travelling heart,

Which is often spread worlds apart.

 

I am internationally grown,

But I have a hard time defining home.

 

I am made up of many places,

Like a dice of six faces.

 

The places I’ve lived and loved,

And those that run through my blood;

 

Each of them is a part of me,

Part of my story and my journey.

 

Much of it is yet to be told,

But to one thing I will always hold:

 

I’m an adult third culture kid,

Of that I never wish to be rid.

Ode to Autumn

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I have always loved all four seasons,

They each have their beautiful reasons.

But one stands out above them all,

My favorite and glorious fall.

 

Winter is biting and cold,

Hiding everything in its frosty hold.

Although a snowflake is magical to behold,

Its novelty soon becomes old.

 

Spring is a well of showers,

Followed by beautiful flowers;

But the pollen falls in powders,

Making me rue the spring hours.

 

Summer is golden and bright,

The sun setting with a glowing light.

Although it may seem just right,

After a while I long for the heat to take flight.

 

The autumn sky is clear and blue,

And the grass is damp with dew.

The trees know their cue

And begin to change their leaves anew.

 

I love winter’s sparkling white

And spring’s colorful delight.

I am warmed by summer’s golden light,

But I am exhilarated by autumn’s sight.

 

I have always loved all four seasons,

They each have their beautiful reasons.

But one stands out above them all,

My favorite and glorious fall.

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First Day

Heart palpitating, palms sweating…

Actually, everything sweating.

 

Do I look all right,

Or is this shirt too bright?

 

I wonder if they’ll talk to me,

Or simply let me be…

 

I’m not really sure which I’d prefer.

 

Will I be able to find my way,

Or will my nerves lead me astray?

 

Trying to hold back the tears

And not let them see all my fears.

 

As always there’s a complication,

My name isn’t there or there’s a mispronunciation.

 

Here we go again.

 

I raise my hand up in the air,

Trying to ignore all those eyes that stare.

 

I tell the teacher about my name,

Thinking how many times must I do the same?

 

The day finally draws to a close,

And the relief inside me grows.

 

At least I made it through today.

The Month of Change

When September comes around, with schools starting and autumn just around the corner, I can’t help but think about all of my Septembers as a TCK. Obviously the first thoughts that come to mind are all those times I was a new kid – like I mentioned in an earlier post. But then there are all sorts of other things that September was synonymous with, and I thought I would share some here…

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Lazy summer days roll into cool autumn nights,

As flocks of birds begin their migrating flights.

 

Notebooks, pens, pencils and other school supplies

Line the shelves all along the supermarket aisles.

 

Excitement, trepidation, laughter and tears…

Depending on whether the new year means facing friends or fears.

 

Leaves changing on the trees,

Fluttering in the early autumn breeze.

 

Red, orange, yellow and gold,

With autumn officially taking hold.

 

September is a month of change, of beginnings and ends,

In school, seasons and friends.

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Summer Storms

Gathering clouds darken the sky,

As the rain pours down with a sigh.

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Lightning flashes through the sky

With thunder rumbling in reply.

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Rain drops like waterfalls from the sky,

And the ground drinks it up, thirsty and dry.

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The wind tears across the sky,

Causing loose leaves to float, drift and fly.

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Soon we see again blue sky,

With sun piercing through with a sigh.

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Behold the beauty of nature in the sky,

Where dreams float and drift and fly.

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