You Can Only Go Home Again – Whenever I travel I have the same thought. I should live here.
Most people stay put. So it’s romantic — to be an out-of-towner or an expat — and difficult. But how does one succeed at being foreign?
It can’t be by assimilating. Assimilating is difficult, but you’re just matching existing norms.
And if you do a bad job of it you subjugate the better parts of your cultural identity to the lesser parts of the new.
It can’t be through otherness.
That’s what you are in the first place, and being “the guy from California” encourages others to engage with you as a stereotype rather than as an individual.
Nevertheless, from desperate and earnest New Delhi to seductive and disingenuous St. Thomas, I’ve felt the pull to become foreign.
And driving around the US from San Diego to New Orleans to D.C. to Rapid City to Portland and places in between, I think yeah, I should live here.
I’m polyamorous with place.
Perhaps it’s because life’s journey varies from city to city and culture to culture in fascinating ways.
Success itself, though, seems the same everywhere.
Assimilation and otherness are distractions.
No matter where you are you have to grow personal relationships and create something valuable.
When it comes to accomplishment, you can only go home again.