Doubly Displaced

27 Sep

I am not just a foreigner in Athens, I’m a double foreigner. When people ask me where I’m from, I don’t have a one-word answer. I could just answer “Canada” . Everyone loves Canada and people usually smile (as opposed to when I say I’m from Israel). But it’s not that simple. I don’t live in Canada anymore, and “Canada” doesn’t answer the obvious question of what I’m doing here with an Israeli husband and son.

This year, I’m doing the very Israeli thing of moving abroad  “for a while”, and yet in Israel I’m still something of a foreigner.

I moved to Israel more than eight years ago, in 2003. I can’t say that I don’t fit in there. I do. I’ve adapted, as much as one can adapt to a foreign country which is not where you were born and grew up. I don’t have the same nostalgic childhood memories as almost everyone else, and I will always speak Hebrew with an accent. So in Israel when people ask where I’m from it feels more natural to reply “Canada”. Because in Israel that’s where I’m from. That’s how people perceive me, and that’s how I perceive myself.

When facing the world though, it’s not as simple; having spent a good part of my adult life in Israel, my worldviews are decidedly Israeli. My life is now shaped by the warm winters and hot summers, the endless drought, the yelling, the hummus, Eyal Golan, Master Chef, the constant threat of war, and sometimes war and terror. I don’t even know if Blue Rodeo are still together.

The truth is I feel hybrid most of the time – with not one foot firmly on either continent. When I go back to Canada, I don’t feel completely Canadian. I live in the fucking Middle East, for God’s sake!

Now doubly displaced in a country to which I have no connection thus far, I find myself longing for that familiar foreignness, the place I’ve grown used to and love despite my many qualms and frustrations with the state’s policies, the endless financial woes, and life in a pressure cooker.  It’s especially hard at this time of year, when everyone is busy bringing in the New Year weeks in advance and letting all the sweetness drag out.

I even miss the feeling of being different THERE. Here, I don’t speak the language. There, I know how to maneuver, and I know what to expect as a foreigner. I’ve grown used to my strangeness. Here, everything is just strange.






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