Things I left behind

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Marilyn at Communicating Across Boundaries has challenged TCK’s to write about things they have left behind.

The only place I had ever known

I was born in Burma and lived there for three years before my family moved to my passport country in the USA. I spoke 5 languages and had never lived anyplace else. I lost four of my five languages. We moved into a three bedroom house in Ithaca, NY and when I would find myself in a room all by myself I would start to scream in terror. I had never been alone before. In Burma we had servants and nanny and neighbors who were always around. On our way back to Burma after two years we were in a plane crash and I lost my favorite doll in the fire. I have had trouble with fear of fire ever since.

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Nanny

On leaving Burma after only a year to move to New York I left behind my nanny who had been my constant companion and spoiled me terribly. I didn’t like my school in New York and refused to go back after the first day because the teacher didn’t know my name. My brother told me to get over it and move on.

English

A year later we moved to Mexico City. They didn’t speak English there. I couldn’t talk to anybody or understand the TV. Plus I went to British school so even the English was funny.

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Dogs

We had two beautiful dogs that lived on our compound in Mexico. They belonged to the landlady but spent most of their time at my house. I loved those dogs.

Friends

I only lived in Bogota for one year but I made some really good friends and had a great time. I cried all the way from Bogota to Miami when I left.

Travel

From Bogota we moved to Nigeria and I made some good friends there as well but I was never very attached to it. I was in boarding school in Switzerland for two years and enjoyed the freedom of being able to hop on a train and see all kinds of amazing places. Leaving friends behind in Switzerland and starting over in my passport country was hard. I had a lot of adjustment problems I didn’t understand at the time.

I lost a lot of “things” along the way like dolls, toys, records, books and clothes. But I never missed them the way I did the people. After we left Mexico I lost TV but that never bothered me either. I realized later it put me at a disadvantage with my American peers. But that was only one of many things.

What did you leave behind?

7 thoughts on “Things I left behind

  1. I left my passport country (US) at the tender age of six weeks and didn’t return for 16 years. My home was a coconut plantation and a small village in the Dominican Republic. What I left behind–was everything! At sixteen, my parents were able to send me to a boarding school in Florida where I finished high school. The week before I returned home to the DR, a CIA-led coup stranded me in the US at the tender age of 18. My parents were incommunicado for months, and when I finally heard from them (they were ok), they basically told me not to come home – it was too dangerous – and that I needed to make my own life in the US. So…what I left behind? All my belongings, memories, family, photo albums, friends…everything that makes a life. I write about it in my memoir “The Coconut Latitudes” – it was a difficult transition to a new life, and with much loss.

  2. I mean to say in the posting above “The week before I was to have returned” home to the Dominican Republic. Sorry for the typo; didn’t see where I could edit it after I posted it.

  3. Rita, that would be really hard. I would have felt torn up about it forever. My own re-entry was one of the hardest years of my life. I left behind so much as well. In every location, Besides the friendships, memories, and physical items, I’ve given up a hobby, sport, or much-loved activity that I could never quite fit back into my life again in a new place. The only thing that has stayed the same is change.

  4. The plane crash sounds horrible, but I’m glad to hear that you’re ok and I’m pretty sure that experience made you only stronger. I think the biggest thing I left behind was my passport country identity… After moving to the U.S. at such a young age I assimilated to the cultre so quickly and now that I’m back

  5. The plane crash sounds horrible, but I’m glad to hear that you’re ok and I’m pretty sure that experience made you only stronger. I think the biggest thing I left behind was my passport country identity… After moving to the U.S. at such a young age I assimilated to the cultre so quickly and now that I’m back in Korea, I’m learning to gain it back.

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