I’ve met several people in recent years, who in response to the most inane question thrown between travelers…
Where are you from?
…meet this uncreative interrogation with a sort of a lick of the lips and a moment’s pause, while they contemplate how to say that they can’t really be sure.
These who adhere to the recently affixed ‘child of the world’ label have been born in France to an Australian mum and Danish diplomat dad; attended school until the age of five in Chile before moving to China and going to a German international school until dad’s office took them through Nicaragua, Belgium, Argentina and Tanzania.
My reaction to these sorts of stories was three-fold, drifting without fail through the following stages, from:
Ahhh, wank-wank you child of the world freak! You’re Australian/Danish ya turkey!
Hmmmm, but if my own dad’s English and I never bill myself as half/half…oh wait? If I’d gone to live with them in Mozambique until I was 10…I dunno…would I feel kinda sorta fakishly African?
Ahhhhh!! Jealous! That’s AWESOME! Why didn’t Mum and Dad whisk me off to some other, flatter, more mountainous, romantic or hopefully spicier-sounding place when I was knee-high to a grasshopper??!
Before finally resting on:
What I wouldn’t give to have learned five languages before the age of 20, without even having been aware of doing so! Yet….yeah, confusing to not feel like you’re from any one place.
Now, being fully free to reflect upon the fact that my white, Aussie middle class background had afforded me the luxury (and curse) of whinging about having one’s basic needs continually met, it does seem that socio-economic calm is fabulous food for the body, but not for the mind. And, while my genetic cocktail has already poured me a white, English speaking drink and all the benefits that this supposes, my soul needs to experience a splash of additives a little more foreign to the taste buds.
As sung by the ever-evocative and eloquently truthful Jorge Drexler;
…tu madre y yo somos una mezcla, igual que tú, de amor y de casualidad…
(just like you, your mother and I are a mixture of love and chance)
It seems that we are all on this Ekka ride together – and the carnival operators don’t always tell us what they’re planning.
Call the carnies what you will: love, chance, fate, God, hard work or destiny. But I hope that on the ride of life (please pardon the over-used expression!) we can work with the tired, sunburned rollercoaster operator, and have a bit of a say on whether we exit at the other end raring for more, or wiping a bit of wayward chuck from our bottom lip.
For me; although executing the thing may at times make my belly turn; getting this trip planned will help me keep my dinner down. And for that I’m excited.