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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.

home and home (bite your tongue)


A week back, and time has not returned to itself. Mornings are sluggish, getting E to school with my stomach empty, twisting and then full, then finding an hour back in bed. Nights are lost, awake in the darkness knowing that friends in New York are taking afternoon coffees, chattering on phones in the streets, shopping for gifts or just working away. Home, and home. Home and home.

The rhythms are beyond my grasp, the shuttling of dishes to sinks, the making of lunches, the remembering of bills and what day the cheese lady is at rinok. It happens sometimes, this catgut string trick, the stretching without breaking, this taught thrum of coffee and work, of messages and hustling for jobs, this hunger, this surrender every night with the resolve to try harder tomorrow. 


I bit my tongue in New York, blood seeping into my breakfast as I touched it and found red on my finger. It was not a small cut. It was me half-chewing into myself with a reckless sadness for good wine and rare steak, for manhattans and martinis and more good coffee, bialys and breakfast sausage, the cold rain on my face in Chinatown, my pockets shoved deep in pockets against the wind on 5th Avenue, turning into Tiffanys to get N's earring fixed on the top floor where they call my name in a low voice.


While I was away, E prepared a card for me. The drawing of the two of us rests at the edge of my desk staring back at me. I can almost smell the magic markers she used when she made it. 

My winter jacket is pulled from the hall closet and I see that N has washed it, and has found buttons for all of the ones that sprang off. The zipper has something to pull it closed now. She thinks of these things and just does them, without fanfare. 

There are a row of avocados in the kitchen on the blue plate we bought in Portugal with two fish painted on it. They are thick skinned, growing soft and ripe, even in the cold air. I squeeze one of them, and cut it open. The flesh is bright green, smiling up at me. I cut some into a bowl while the buckwheat cooks. The sky is growing brighter, full of clouds with blue leaking in between them. A man is shoveling snow in the street below, the lonely rasp of his work breaking the silence. 

Yes, home.



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