Where you can be yourself: a true third place, very far from home

Relaxing today in the most exquisite part of my neighborhood that I know, enjoying the comfort of familiar things, people who know me by face, and the still-here mood of things that did not end due to the pandemic. This abstract picture is me at my local, which isn’t ‘mine’ per se, but a place that has adopted me and which I too have come to feel close to, too. This is what happens when you are a long-term living-abroad person, I think. You grow into the place where you are, somehow, it becomes part of you and vice versa. Art school kids I met in Aarhus told me to google ‘relational aesthetics’ when they heard I was in Denmark to find people to invite to ‘N’, and make it, and from those investigations I learned about ‘radicant growth.’ Exactly what I am feeling right now. Growing a root, while in motion. Truly not much physical moving about these days (pandemic, funds), but the thing is, I think I am ‘over’ travel as a way to find the new. I did enough, now. I’m good. I went to 27 countries, and stuff, and I am not interested anymore in going around trying to find new people only to see the same things that a person on Quora said were the repeat-stories that you get tired of, after a while. I quoted that in S P A C E last year. I remember now. Reading it, and feeling, So true.

 

Language and connection

Today I realized you don’t have to know the local language to feel deeply connected.

The idea of learning a language and beginning to immerse was something I tried in Japan, when I was a student there, very earnest, very hard-core and ‘hardworking.’ Ah, those were the days. Pursuing Japanese studies just to prove something to someone. I have no idea who. I had an amazing teacher in high school, KM, who gave me the encouragement and instrumental support I needed (these are some high school exchange programs you can look into, this is how you apply). One of the most impressionable moments of that first two years of my life studying the very first layers of Japanese was how one of my classmates did not want to study kanji. She was making a case for how it just wasn’t a big deal to learn it.

I think that was what was being said. I do remember the vibe in that moment, in that place. A student coming in and telling the teacher what the curriculum should and shouldn’t contain. This was the same school where an English teacher asked me if English was my second language, which was weird, since it is not. It’s stuff like this that was the norm in those days, the 90s, and you could go around and think to yourself that something wasn’t right about it or you could just stay in denial. But: something wasn’t right.

This story continues in S P A C E. S P A C E is a weekly zine. Subscribe at the crowdfunding page. Here is a link.

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