I read once, somewhere--and how I wish I could remember where and by whom!--that the "true international" can dissolve into anywhere. While on the one hand, I suppose that technically rules me out, I like to think that perhaps I am indeed just such a person.
Coming back here has been a delightful homecoming if only for the dissolution of myself back into these worlds. Could I ever express the efforts I put into acquiring the speech of where I live in NY? (And still I know once in a while it slips...) What of my fears that in slipping in, I would be stuck?
But as it is, when I entered Germany, I could speak German, and so did. To the immigration official, who was quite surprised hearing me but seeing my passport. To the flight attendants and the young family sitting across the aisle from me.
I remember the first time I ever did that, on a Czech airlines, speaking Slovak to the attendants. They never did know. When I got back from Russia and switched over Russian to Slovak again, it was merely a couple months of people thinking I was Ukrainian instead.
When I first returned to the place I was born a few years back, the very most gratifying part of that trip was being welcomed home by everyone once they realised who I was, or told "once from here, always from here."
Now in this other homecoming, I think Monday presented the greatest such gratification. I bought a painting at a kiosk in the Tatras, at the first mountain my sister and I climbed. Poor man. He is now under the firm understanding that she and I are actually Slovaks, born here but moved to the States around the time of the revolution, along with even our grandmother!! He was so delighted that our parents taught us Slovak and that we would still come back to our homeland. And we were delighted by our ability to dissolve back into this world.
I confess I am--as I was informed on Sunday by an old friend--"feistily independent," and that I am wont not to accept the kind meant advise especially from close family. But I recall--always have--my father saying when I was but a young child to make sure I really lived where I found myself and didn't wast the time I had there. I have always tried to find the best way to live that.
For the longest time I tried to find that one place to be home. We are taught that growing up, no matter what public school in what country you attend, or how many such different ones. Each teach that all you want and all you should want is to belong. But I really love now how that can be for more than the one, how we don't have to live divided or continually conflicted. It may be oddly limiting on some levels, but there is a plane of reality that allows for a broader world, a world where opposites can live side by side without war. I love that my life can encompass all of these worlds without the annihilation of any other one. (And that statement comes from one who tried to annihilate one of her worlds to fit the other, once upon a time)
I love the fact, as my sister put it, that our being American as well makes our being Slovak that much more impressive and generally awesome.