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Friday, July 3, 2015

Every now and then, my whole shrinks...

This is a water meter, one of two at our place. This one registers the consumption of water for outdoor use, an amount that regularly gets subtracted from the main register on a monthly basis. Imagine all this happening here on the coast in Oregon, where it rains 70-80 inches a year and ducks and beavers are our sports mascots.  Even in Oregon, we parse water consumption. Our vegetable gardening and all our pots are on drip irrigation. Our tiny lawn  goes dormant in the summer, most summers. We live on a lake; but the lake water cannot be used for irrigation because fish and other aquatic lives need a certain level of purity and a certain level of flow for their well being.

What if our well being was metered? What if we carried a device that told us exactly how well we felt all the time? What if human lives at all levels, regardless of position or function or wealth, what if each human was guaranteed a basic level of sustenance and protection from harm, from injury, both physical and emotional?

The last few weeks have brought me face to face with a strange feeling I get every now and then. The feeling that I don't belong to this land the way the natives do. As an immigrant, my sense of belonging is right under the surface, exposed now and then whenever the politics of the day question my status, my origin, my accent-tinged way of speaking.

Perhaps too many of us have skated around this problem, this sense of not quite deserving to be in this land, this sense of unease with all the rhetoric bantered about, and never quite finding the words to address the problem. I can only imagine how big the uneasiness for those Americans who were born here, and for no other reason than their color, their economic status, their ethnicity or their religion, their sexual orientation have been relegated to a life of less importance, a life that needs constant adaptation and metering, adding this or that to belong to the bigger society.

I can vouch in a tiny way for what it feels like to have that second meter with you all the time. It tells you, that no matter how much you succeed, how important you may feel certain days, you better remember that you are being monitored for your worthiness, watched for any careless display of your "otherness" among the bigger society. You are, after all, not the real thing.


7 comments:

Helen said...

... a fascinating post.

Marty Damon said...

What an intriguing thought.
We do own an acre and a half - an idea that amazes me when I stop to think about it. I do have vague sense of the farmer who likely owned this land before us - his stone wall edges our property. You've reminded me that I need to pause a bit more often.

Shadow said...

I'm not sure we are all meant to be alike? But treasure our differences, our uniqueness.

Sue said...

Dignity...whatever other differences there are between us, that's something that should always be allotted the same to all.

Found your blog due to Maggie May...plan to come back again!

Barbara - said...

Hmm, I could probably write on this one for a long time, but for now just let me say that aside from sympathizing with some of my long term immigrant friends I do feel some of your pain, having lived for a long time as an expat (admittedly not immigrant) in another country.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

Poignant piece of prose here. I hear the emotion in you words. Difficult to discern the feelings of others in regard to this issue. A true sense of belonging is one not easily gained by many and taken advantage of by others. I appreciate your thoughtulness.

RNSANE said...

I'll have lived 20 months of the past 3 years ( as of my departure come October 6th ) in India - so I know what it is to feel that I don't really belong! Aside from the fact that my white skin makes me a stand out, I have yet to learn Hindi, in spite of all the aps in my phone. I laugh in that no one ever seems to be that satisfied with where they are. Ads on Indian t.v. are directed to the ladies, selling creams that will make their skin whiter. I'd love to have their beautiful bronze skin! People are always asking me to help them get to the US. I can understand that because salaries are so terribly low. I try to tell them how expensive living in America is...what it costs to rent or buy in the San Francisco area, how much food costs, etc. No matter, they all see the US as "the promised land".

You belong, Rosaria, and all of us are richer because of the people from around the world who came to make the US what it is today. We forget that America belonged to native Americans when we arrived, not so very long ago, in the scheme of things.