The perennial traveller
A lot of our friends tell us that my husband, J, and myself are "too demanding". They say this because they see us country-hop from one place to another, never seeming to be able to settle down. (Over the weekend, J commented to me that the family had actually had more international relocations than vacations in the past four years!)
We admit that we keep searching for something. A place where we can feel safe, where our children can live up to their potential. A place that will give us a chance despite the fact that some of us have brown skin or speak with an accent or are painfully shy. To be honest, it doesn't look like we've found it yet, but we're resting for a while in Malaysia, the country where I was born.
It's an interesting sensation because it's my country and yet, after so many years away from it, it isn't. It's fascinating peering in through the window, so to speak, and observing how life is for a different society, but also makes me feel a little introspective. If I can't belong in the country of my birth, what hope is there for me elsewhere?
That's not to say I'm unhappy about the amount of travelling I've done. I think the experiences of living in several countries and observing the inhabitants has given me a better feel for how people act and react, something I hope I translate well into my books. But the price of that insight is to be an alien on my own planet. Maybe that's why I like writing space opera so much. I can relate to the alien.
I think I'm a more extreme example of all of us. In different situations, under different circumstances, we are all aliens, caught unawares by silent communications or expectations that we didn't know walking into the situation. As painful as it sometimes is to be in that situation, I think there's also a lot of benefit to be gained by it as it gives us a chance to observe our surroundings in a new light, and maybe find a truth that was previously hidden to us.