I am a local. I am multi-local. I was born in a small port city of southern Atlantic Spain and went to school primarily on Guam. I moved to Tokyo for college and graduate school while my parents worked in SE Asia, Europe, Korea and then Alaska. My family has lived in about 8 countries. I call Alaska, Washington state, California and Texas home – my family is there, my heart is there.
I still keep bread and soup on the table. It’s a habit I picked up in Germany and Austria when my parents lived in Europe. You must always make time to sit and eat (Americans tend to eat and walk or stand and eat). I also tend to hyper-spice food due to my exposure to the culinary culture of Guam.
Once a week, I contact my best, best friend in Texas (who might as well be a misplaced kid sister) and we talk about everything. We have mirror-image lives, having lived out of the homeland and worked in other countries. We connect in a way others can’t. Same thing for my friend from California. I have known her for 20 years but she feels like the person I grew up next door to. We can finish off each other’s sentences; we laugh at the same jokes. Her family heritage is from Mexico. I love the fact we might be talking and suddenly she says something to her parents in Spanish and then effortlessly switches back into English.
I email my mom almost every day. I took the plunge and shared some of my writing with her. She is my fan but that doesn’t mean she likes everything I write – and that’s ok. My mom is my link to my German heritage; words, food and concepts. Now that she lives in Alaska she keeps me up to date with local issues.
I am a US citizen (my parents are from the state of Illinois). I have never lived in the US; my passports have always been issued from abroad. They were not blue, but green or grey, then they changed in the 1980s to blue "Z". As a holder of said passport, I was treated like a second class citizen each time I “returned” to the US. I am happy they have now stopped the practice of making the distinction – travelling in my 20's through Europe with it in the Cold War was sheer hell on the Eastern side of the Iron Curtain. Now I have a standard US passport, it makes travelling easier (now we have Passport cards we can slip into our wallets too).
I think the moment you stop wanting to learn is the moment you start dying. There is so much out in the world to see and experience and change. Why would anyone just sit back and let their moments of life tick away? I took up writing a small essay or story each day. Most of them are daily experiences or how things have changed in Tokyo over the years. My newest experiment is developing a small group of characters: friends who live and work in Tokyo. I write about Margeau and Leslie and so far they are fleshing out quite nicely.