Liminal Spaces

Dawn rises over a misty Dublin (en route to Edinburgh) 

Throughout the course of my 43 years I find myself unintentionally but continuously occupying liminal spaces.  The spaces in-between.  Not this but not really that either.  Continuously a bit on the outside of things.  Which I don't mind.  Obviously it must work for me if I regularly find myself rejecting the middle/conventional to live on the periphery.

This was recently brought home as I had two house guests from America visit.  During the course of the week I got to fall in love with Dublin and Ireland all over again, as I showed them around.  That's a great feeling when its renewed.  I also found myself listening to them in awe as I realised some things I take for granted as being 'American' have changed.  For example, kids always went back to school after Labour Day when I was growing up.  This isn't the case anymore.  I found myself feeling strangely disconnected from the country I grew up in.  Its a little thing, but one of the many ways we identify as being part of a culture is sharing the cultural 'everybody knows this/this is how x is done'.  Mostly its little things.  I was more startled than I thought I would be to realise the distance between me and America continues to grow.  I have felt for some years that Ireland is home but more and more America is not familiar.  And that's...interesting. 

The sun rises over Dublin Bay

After many years of being an immigrant you start to feel like a local.  Whether the locals accept you as one or not is another thing.  And that can be frustrating. The more I lose my accent I find the more I am accepted without question.  As humans, we seem to have a default predisposition that rejects others (or at least holds them at arm's length) based on this otherness.  Which might have been useful 2,000 years ago but now is just the cause for agro and unnecessary discrimination.  But there's a very real plus side to being an immigrant as well.  Its liberating.  Whoever you were brought up to be - those ties are broken.  You can be whomever you chose.  And do as you like, unfettered by the social constraints we are all brought up to adhere to.  You, as an immigrant, are given carte blanche to be as weird and eccentric as you like.  All of this will be accepted as you are not from there anyway.  

For example,  I have a vegetable plot in my front garden.  You don't see many of them in Seattle, certainly not in the neighbourhoods I grew up in.  It would be untoward.  I didn't think twice about putting one in front of my Dublin home because as an outsider, I'm expected to be weird/different/strange anyway.  No comments have been made.  That's freedom. 

As much as we lefty types congratulate ourselves on rejecting the social constraints that don't work for us, its really hard to break all the little ways we're brought up to act.  Even the ones that might seem benign but don't really work for us anymore.  Being an immigrant one gets to decide which social & cultural norms one follows.  And that is a joy for which I am very grateful. 


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