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the immigrant and the exile

The expatriate remains patriotic - loving their country from a distance. Their loyalty does not waver.

The immigrant is a foreigner that works in another country as a result of some form of escape, some desperate act.

The exile does not love their country, and it can be said that their country rejected them.

Which one wakes up homesick?

Which one can shrug off the betrayal, the long shadow of the dream of a better life when it sours and fades?

There are days when  I see no difference between the immigrant and the exile, two sides of the same coin. The expat is a blind romantic, their decisions set as young men and women, their senses dulled to nothing. I have started to understand I am not an expat any more, as I do not love my country. I tolerate it.

Someplace in Mexico (Buddha on the water)




It takes some time for the irony to sink in, that she wants to crawl into a six foot plastic bubble and roll around, buoyed in this water tank on the outskirts of the city. The giant balls are tethered to the launch area. The man who runs the place does not get paid with carnival tickets, just money in his hand. $6 for something like five minutes and I can pay extra to keep her inside when the time is up, depending on how many people are waiting. 

She sits in there, her pants suddenly too tiny, rocking back and forth pretending she is a tiny Buddha on the water. The other children are doing flips, running like gerbils inside their balls. I take pictures, yelling above the din of the crowd that she should do something but she smiles at me instead. 
“That was amazing.’ She announces, emerging after two extra-long turns inside on wobbly legs.
The man smiles at me, nodding.
I tell him he has a great job, that he makes a lot of people very happy. He agrees, offering more smiles and giant cartoon head nods. 


And then we are not there in the water tank universe any more. We are in Moscow, the city she has not left for more than seven years now. 

Walking in the street, we discuss me the places I will take her someday, in order of importance.
     New York
      New Orleans
      Rome
      Someplace in Mexico
      Maybe Puerto Rico
      Someplace in Spain
      A lot of places in Italy, like Bologna
      Not the desert
      Coney Island
      Paris or Portugal
      Maybe Australia







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