The expatriate dichotomy

North Cascades

I arrived in Seattle Friday afternoon, and what a flight that was! We descended over the North Cascades, in all their sharp-edged, snowy glory, and passed between towering pillars of cumulus clouds, which instantly put me in mind of a famous bit of poetry: “[I] flung my eager craft through footless halls of air…” Down we went over the coastal plains, with Puget Sound and its islands stretching out to the west, and I watched the appearance of familiar bridges and roads. The scenery just before we landed was spectacular, because we were low enough to appreciate the green beauty of the coastal plains, but still high enough to see the entire North Cascade range…and then we dropped to the runway and I was back on the ground in my beloved Pacific Northwest.

A funny thing, this business of being home when it isn’t really home anymore. I grew up here, and have very deep roots in this land: a bone-deep familiarity with the trees, the landscape, the very scent of the air. But at the same time, it all feels a bit foreign now. I’m home, but I’m also a visitor. And it’s not that this place has changed. The change has been in me.

I love being here, and can’t wait for the adventures. I’m dying to get to the mountains and the coast. But I miss Portugal already.

Home may be where your heart is, but what if your heart lives in two different places? Then you’re always home…and you never are.

(Photo of the North Cascades from Globe Images.)

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About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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9 Responses to The expatriate dichotomy

  1. Paulo says:

    This post is the exact mirror reflection of my feelings, and if you switch the Cascades for the Douro Valley and the Sound for the Atlantic shores, you will get a clear picture of “my” dichotomy.

    It also brought to my mind this post I recently came across, which will probably speak to you similarly to how it did to me, particularly the last three paragraphs:
    http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/what-happens-when-you-live-abroad/

    On a side note, I have been tied up with so much stuff that my end of our communication has been put on hold, but Memorial Day has given me an extra breath so I will fix that pretty soon.
    Good to know you’re back on Oregon shores! Maybe we can get a beer one of these days? Details on possibilities to follow in the mail. 🙂

    • oregon expat says:

      Interesting post! And yes, the last three paragraphs in particular resonate, but I have to say I disagree with much of the prior text. I don’t feel any fear that I’m missing things back home. Ten years ago I probably would have, but nowadays we’ve got Messages and Skype (both voice and videochat) in addition to digital photography and email. There are so many ways to keep in touch, and to actually see what’s happening — IF our loved ones use them. That is a big if. I’m one of the lucky ones, with friends and family who are all online and connected.

  2. mudlips says:

    Or as I like to say, “Home is where I watch the birds.” Welcome back to the US o’ A!

  3. xenatuba says:

    “Always home and never are”. Well said. Enjoy your visit, your traipsing about, and your friends. Then go home….again.

  4. So, you went from a country with constant news about the crisis nad Troika on TV to a country with constant news about elections, gay marriage, religion, etc on TV. DO NOT LISTEN TO TALK RADIO, lol

  5. Lisa Shaw says:

    So whichever way you’re headed, you’re always going home. And that’s a beautiful thing. 🙂 Home is where the heart is. Or, in my case, where my dogs are. 😉

  6. Stan says:

    A relevant quote from Flannery O’Connor:

    Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it.

    Which is a strong echo of Thomas Wolfe’s “You Can’t Go Home Again” –

    “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood … back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame … back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time — back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”

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