In the dim and distant past when I first embraced expatriate living in the US (Washington D.C.), I somehow came across a copy of the The Bone People by Keri Hume. It’s a novel of New Zealand and at the time it was a taste of home when I was sorely missing familiar things. America was then (and, let’s face it, still is) a strange and interesting place, and even despite all the cultural input we get from there, it is quite some distance (in every way) from the then familiar, small town New Zealand…
It has occurred to me recently that I don’t really miss those familiar things any more – a trip to a NZ supermarket recently only netted a packet of Twisties (Seriously, follow the link – it’s a 1980’s ad – memory lane for me!) which were disappointing in the extreme, and a Pinky Bar (never disappointing). But by and large, if I really want any of those old (unhealthy) favourites, I can usually find them somewhere here… Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE Kiwiana in all its kitschy glory, but those old familiars don’t fill me with a desire to be back amongst them. They’re a nostalgic, warm memory of my heritage and my history. But they’re not so much really ME any more.
I’m thinking about these things because while I was in the airport on the way home I picked up the book I’ve just finished – Cut & Run: When the Truth is No Protection by Alix Bosco. It’s a good read, and part of that is because, like the Bone People before it, it’s written by a Kiwi and set in Auckland and Coromandel; places with which I’m thoroughly familiar.
In reading it, as before, I just loved the element of familiarity; reading street names and suburbs I know well and hearing the accent of my people in the character’s voices. But this time, in contrast to the last, while I was warmed by the connection, I wasn’t so reassured by it as I have been in the past, I’ve been trying to work out why this is so, and I’ve concluded the following.
While I identify with New Zealand in all it’s wonderful gorgeous glory – I’m no longer identified by it.
Does this mean I’m now identified by my Australian citizenship? No, I just think I’m about more than where I’m from… unless of course you consider my ‘digital citizenship’ which raises a whole other set of ideas about identity…
:: Quick Disclaimer:: Now, before my family read this and freak out that I’m NEVER coming back – I never say never – and I LOVE NZ and that I’m from there… it’s just that, well, I’ve lived here in Sydney, in THIS part of Sydney longer than I’ve lived anywhere else… ever.::
P.S. Of course all of the above could simply be interpreted as me not loving Cut & Run like I did the Bone People… *shrugs*