Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Other Side of the Coin

Last week I promised I would write about what's positive in the US so here goes:

1. Language- English wasn't my first language- I spoke Latvian at home until I started school but it is my love.  I revel in the accents and eavesdropping on what people actually say to each other.  I studied other languages: French, Spanish, Catalan,a brief stint with Russian and even briefer, Chinese, but as a writer, I need doses of English.   Living in Barcelona I discovered every utterance was a political statement.  Did I risk speaking in Spanish and potentially offending a Catalan or use my far more limited Catalan and risk sounding foolish?  Often I didn't speak. The message was the language used, not communication. 

2.Nature.   There is an abundance of wildlife encroaching on suburban (and urban) America- wolves, coyotes, bears, and alligators.  In my city I see white tailed rabbits in the yard,hear woodpeckers in the morning, and see deer when I ride my bike in the cemetery.  In all the years of hiking in different areas of Spain, I saw only an occasional snake,a fox once, 2 wild boars, and of course, the lizards that plagued my dreams.  A Chinese student said alligators would be no problem in people's backyards in China- they would simply be eaten. 

3.  The Bill of Rights though I would immediately eliminate the second amendment.  And I'd stop the Supreme Court from decimating Miranda Rights and everything else.

4.  A sense of community.  I have attended more fundraisers than I can count that range from supporting a victim of cancer to compensating for the state's budget cuts in the arts.  Community struggles to compensate for the lack of a safety net or public funding.
Living as an expat you have the freedom to observe without participating in the decisions that influence your world.  Here I have taken some responsibility- I vote in every election however, small and local. 

I have thought the happiest person is one who has never left their place of birth.  There is nothing to judge it by or compare it to.  Thus, it is perfect.  If you've lived in different places, nothing quite lives up to your expectations.  Here's a poem from my chapbook.  And yes, I'm still looking for that elusive place.

                                                Finding My Way Home
The Hmong bury placenta,
close to home.
Danger rises in direct proportion
to their distance from it.

The Navajo began
the long march back
where each tree,
each stream tells the past.

There is no landmark,
to mark America as mine.

The spot that fixes me
to the ground, floats.

Lost in the birches
and pines of the Baltic,
following the storks south,
to nest in the bell towers
of Castillian churches,
I´m finding my way home.


  1. I'm happy to be part of your community -Home.

  2. Very nice poem. Humanity needs this can of feelings express in your poem. Unfortunately our nest it is not our country anymore our mother tongue language it is not sometimes the language we learned in our childhood. Our planet it is now our real nest for many years and on.

  3. Terez,
    You are very wise. I know how frustrating this city can be, but to see its wildness underneath is important. Oren Lyons wrote about a fox he saw by the side of the road in downtown Syracuse, saying he was far from home. Of course, foxes have had dens in those places for centuries, and their very persistence is a lesson. Feeling rather like that fox at the moment. The poem is quite beautiful.