It’s raining on this Monday afternoon in Budapest, and it feels like – for the time being at least – my lover has forsaken me. Times like these, I’m always reminded of the summer I decided to cheat and move away. It felt like cheating, because Budapest had given me so much, love, joy, laughter, but also the occasional bout of heartache. I was alive then, knew just what I wanted and how I was going to get it. In fact, it was because of this feeling alive and being on top of the world, that I moved away, searching for someone (or something) that was very similar and yet totally different. That ended up being Wales, a beautiful place with interesting people, and that was also when my troubles and fears started. Without being melodramatic, I started growing up.
I’d led a charmed life. Oh, there were the occasional scrapes I got into (lots of occasional scrapes), the various troubles. But for the most part, I was fine, I always got out of it, always had something to focus on all over again. Wales changed all that. It ripped the gates open to things I didn’t quite want to deal with, things in my immediate and distant past(s) I needed to confront. Plainly speaking, before this sounds melodramatic, I was (finally) growing up, transitioning into adulthood, confronting my fears. It was a gradual process, one that took several countries. And several years. Ironically, or perhaps not, one of those countries was a place I visited when I was a kid, thirteen, playing the violin in the school orchestra so badly, I really shouldn’t have gone. But my teacher knew how important it was for me to go, how much it meant. He knew on a level that only those know who’ve agreed to help, foster, and nurture us in our spiritual growth can ever know. Yes, this post might turn slightly esoteric, but I’d like to say, I believe in a higher power guiding us, an energy of sorts. If you disagree with that, just substitute whatever you believe in for that higher power element.
If Hungary was – and still is – my lover, England was the mischievous first boyfriend, your next-door neighbor with whom you tentatively tried your first kiss in kindergarten, who then finds you again when you’re both in junior high. And you hang out for a little while. You compare the old and the new, the way you have grown, catch up on which direction each of you has progressed in, acknowledging the journey each of you has been on. You know it won’t last, that there is no way you can be together, but you decide to live in the moment and just enjoy the ride. Until you, the eternal wanderer, move on again, this time to where you first met in kindergarten, and then on to two more additional places, also deeply symbolic of your relationship, because in each place you learned. Your boyfriend and you are now clearly split up, in fact you’re about to get married. You’ve settled in with your husband, resigned yourself to your fate in this strange new place you’d only ever heard of before but had never been to, until your husband beckoned for you to come and settle down there, at least for a little while. It’s hard work – mainly uphill – all part of the learning process, the path of inner growth your kindergarten / junior high boyfriend put you on, had to put you on.
Until that magical day, when your lover beckons you back, enveloping you in his warm embrace, extending the promise of what could be, what it will be. And you heed the call, because life beside your husband (always beside, always an extra) is not a life that will fulfill you completely. You heed the call and come back, because now that you’ve learned, developed, and grown, you can safely come back. You’ve just received your second chance, where you can have what was great when you first hooked up with your lover, but now with the benefit of hindsight, knowing exactly which mistakes to avoid.
Confused? This is the mindset of a Cross-Cultural Kid.