Ten days ago, June 20th, marked the 13th anniversary of our arrival in the U.S. back in 1996, when we were two young "kids," recently married and graduated from college (1.5 year earlier) who wanted to:
1) (in the K's case) learn English;
2) (both of us) have an experience of life abroad -- this was particularly important for me, already fluent in the language and an English teacher in Brazil.
We never imagined that we'd stay for so long and keep on "staying." I once wrote (4 years ago!) about being an "accidental academic," but I think that now one of the most defining aspects of K's life and mine is that we accidentally became immigrants as well.We're still struggling with that thought. I think I've said here before that becoming permanent residents somehow "changed everything" for us in a sense and prompted us to make a decision to stay here a little longer. When we tell our story to people, however, as it happened in the past month or two with Klebert and a lab partner of his, it sounds very strange to people that we never planned to become immigrants in the first place!
As a matter of fact, for many years I used to shock (with great pleasure!) people who had recently come from Brazil to "the promised land" in saying that I didn't like it here. I would kind of boast that I spoke the language flawlessly, that I understood the culture, that I had never problems adapting to life here (except some minor issues such as being depressed for not having any money for years and years -- which turned out to be "forever" since it's still the case!), but that I didn't really liked the country, that I didn't think it was this wonderful thing that these people thought it was. I wanted to go back to Brazil, I really did.
Longtime readers also know from one of my key, most heartfelt posts, that a large part of the reason why I became a happier expatriate and stopped talking about going back to Brazil is the fulfilling, meaningful interactions and friendships that I experienced once I started blogging. So, yeah, you can it blame a little bit on blogging -- the fact that I'm here today ;-). In any case, we stayed... and the initial loss of K's "big pharma" job was the event that ultimately brought us to the residency.
So, what now? As I recently wrote, I'm becoming slightly uncomfortable with the fact that I'm slowly, but surely, embracing my life here. It's understandable that I have these feelings right now because we just found out that we'll probably be able to keep the house. That is a HUGE deal. It's only now that I can finally begin to think again about the "positives" -- the things I like about this house and this region. I just couldn't allow myself to do that after the initial two months of "peacefully" (if stressful for the novelty of it all, and living in an ungly, fixer upper of a house) living here, before it all collapsed when K lost his job. After that, I could not allow myself to enjoy this house because I knew that we would probably not get to keep it... In any case, I'm a bit shocked at the fact that I'm hesitant to go to Brazil.
On the one hand, I want to go, I don't want to stay and then regret it, but on the other hand, we've just gone through so much, that all I want is to stay put for a while. To process and enjoy our new-found stability and peace with K and the boys. So, yeah... that's part of it. And these are some of the thoughts in my mind as we "commemorate" 13 years in the U.S. We've been here long enough, and we might just be reaching the point in which we'll be calling this place "home" too -- not that Brazil will no longer be our "home" country, no... Yeah, we'll always feel that in-betweeness. It's inevitable, that much I know, and this is not an "accidental" feeling, it's part and parcel of being an immigrant.
The year of the girls
2 hours ago