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California born by a Cuban mother, married to a Japanese man, and have lived in Japan since 2004, minus one year living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I have friends and family in many places in the world. I dreamed of traveling to many distant lands, creating music and dancing to it, meeting interesting people, and discovering treasures in the most unlikely of places.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Immigrants' Stories

We have been watching The Sound of Music in the JHS 2nd grade class. First, I would like to say that I think this movie is amazing. What a great film. It has a bit of everything very well orchestrated into it. It is funny, sad, happy, elegant, down-to-earth, and very well composed. The directing, acting, and camera work is great. And the plot is really good. I saw this movie when I was about seven, but I was too young to know enough about life to appreciate it.
It constantly reminds me of my father in Mexico when we watch it. He is Austrian, and the movie is about Austrians. It shows us the culture before the second world war. It is a culture that I know he yearns for, a beautiful culture of elegant waltzes, classical music, quiet mountains, and many other things. I am sure, if I were to see a movie about Cuba, the same thing would happen with regard to my mother.
It makes me realize that I have chosen the same path. The path of the immigrant.
The other night I had a dream. I was in the mountains somewhere in California. I had met some people at the store. A young woman, a young man and an older woman. They were laughing and talking in the checkout isle. The man began to sing a short song, an addition to what we were talking about. And then the young checkout woman said to me "Why don't you stay here? It is fun, the people are nice. You would probably be happy here." I began to cry, and I woke up crying. It had been a long time since that happened. I realized how much I still missed being in the US, the way the people so freely greet strangers, and treat people like they are important, even if they don't know them, how easy it is to make real friends. But all of these feelings and this nostalgia are meaningless. The fact is that I am an immigrant. I have married a foreign man and moved to a foreign land. No one understands or cares, why should they? They didn't leave their homeland. I have chosen a lonely path, perhaps. Or perhaps it takes years to build a life, and most people have started from childhood, but I started 5 years ago, as an adult. I am not lonely with my husband; he is a lovely man, and very masculine and very proud. He is always at my side, if I should need someone, he is there for me. So I have the seed of a life here, and slowly, little by little, am meeting people and learning the language to a point of semi-literacy. And I am learning what it means to be Japanese, not in the obvious ways, but the ways that I am sure the Japanese Immigrants miss so much when they have left their home to live abroad. The quiet nature of homelife. What it means to be proud of yourself because you have really tried and prevailed at something, and then to keep going. Patience. The art of focus. And littler things... that I might not notice until I left, to go back to my homeland, and then looking back, realized how they had struck me so deeply. This may also be the plight of the Immigrant. That time and space always move forward, but that your become a part of that moving sphere, and once separated, are lost, in some part, forever. We can never go back. To where we were born, or to the place where we lived for some years.

Immigrants never forget their homeland. They never forget the way that people interacted. They never forget the little things, like how the place looked, the shapes and styles of things, when people smiled, when people connected, the sounds, the smells, the tastes. Those things may fall away with the years, changing, but for the immigrant, and perhaps, for the elderly as well, the nostalgia of a life never goes away. It lives forever in their hearts.

I am planting a garden. There is a Pineapple Guava in it. It is a rare ornamental here. I am also planting all sorts of citrus fruits, which are very popular here. I hope that my garden will flourish. It resembles my hopes.

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