Friday, February 28, 2014
Rainy Day Expatriation
Shorter hair and shorter recital dress. Trips to the hair salon and the tailor connected by a walk in England's dreary rainy weather. And I got a chance to chat with two people in Cambridge with no affiliation to the university. As I waited for some friends to arrive at the Oz the tailor's to pick me up, I spoke with the Turkish ex-pat for an hour in his small and modest shop while the rain came down. I felt a new ability to listen that I had earned from my time living so far away from home. I can't possibly understand what it must have been like for him to decide to leave his home to avoid the army 15 years ago, to get caught with an illegal passport at Heathrow Airport and spend 3 months in prison then 3 more years waiting for his asylum to be granted. I can't understand the change from Turkish to British culture, or living with so little money for so long, or having such little contact with family and friends. But what little I could understand from my own experience in Japan--of being at such a distance from what is familiar, about the loneliness and isolation that one can have in such a situation--gave me the ears to hear him in a new way. England gave us the perfect weather for such a chat, with no pressure to leave the shelter we had, in a place so far away from home.