I am an immigrant

Yes, I am an Immigrant.  fields

An expat- which is just a nicer word for an immigrant who still retains the passport of her birth country.

tia - calf

‘An expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing, as an immigrant, in a country other than that of their citizenship. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (“out of”) and patria (“country, fatherland”).’

The land of my mother and father.

Where I was born.

There are times, living here in America with a green card, as an immigrant, that I don’t feel that I belong here. I just want to go home. Such a child-like response to a fright.

Many immigrants feel this way. We all carry a sadness within us, almost a feeling of failure that we could not thrive in our own countries, we had to leave to grow.

We are in America trying to fit in, with our green cards clutched in our hot little hands and trying to keep our mouths shut. To look grateful and unthreatening.

To get a green card is a long, arduous and expensive process. It takes years, just the background checks, police checks, etc.,  took a solid eighteen months for me just to be cleared, then on to the next step. And I come from a country that is not at war so the records are easy to find and they are in English. And don’t forget that the person applying for the permanent residency pays good money every step of the way. This is not a poor mans lark.

I talked to a lady yesterday who was shocked that is was hard to get. Oh, she said, I thought that when you married an American you were automatically an American citizen. She did not mean to be rude she was just interested in whether I was a citizen or not. But no. Not at all. Where on earth did you get that idea from? I asked. Who told you it was easy? You have to apply and beg to be admitted and every expensive step underscores that no-one wants you here at all!  Marrying helps though.

Ten years ago, I married John, an American citizen who I have known since I was seventeen, but marrying him did not guarantee residency, not at all, I was put through a series of harrowing interviews and a war of paper and applications and lawyers visits. Two years later I had my green card.

But I still hold a New Zealand passport.

It is the law that I must carry my green card on me at all times as proof that I am allowed to be out on the street in America.

Once approved, the green card  only lasts for ten years.

It was easier for me though. I am an English speaking woman from a peaceful country and I have a long accessible paper trail of education and work history and I am married to an American. And we had the money to pay for me to apply for permanent residency. I am not the daughter of an undocumented Mexican woman or a Syrian doctor or a small Muslim girl in school or a young Algerian man with nothing but dreams or an Argentinian rugby player. How much harder is life for these people. The good honest ones – not the ones with bad intent – the ordinary immigrants like me.

So many people are being threatened with deportation now from the place they were born in or desperately want to work in, yet I am only here by chance.  It seems all wrong to me. What is the word I am struggling for – guilt? I feel guilty. I feel guilty that I am a happy go lucky immigrant. I am not in America by choice – it is just where my husband lives.  I don’t bring important knowledge or skills to this country,  I seldom even leave the farm. I feel terrible sadness for the uncertain futures of those people who are not as lucky as I. Yet I feel a tide turning.

These last few days I am struggling with a feeling that I cannot quite put my finger on. I feel … see that? I pause again … if this were a real conversation and you were in the room with me, I have gone quiet and am looking out the window trying to form English words for how I feel. Groping for them. This text has taken almost two hours to write already. My coffee has gone quite cold. I must get back to the fencing but I am not sure how I feel. I need to find the words. Afraid? Sad?  I feel out of step, isolated, foreign. I don’t understand anymore. I am confused. I don’t belong.

Every time I go out  – EVERYTIME – someone will say “Oh, I love your accent. Where do you come from?.”  Everytime it is kindly pointed out that I do not belong here – I come from elsewhere. From a tourist destination no less. My country is a postcard. Why are you here – is the next question. These are very personal questions yet not one person blushes as they ask them or says – do you mind my asking. I am a little pointy triangle sitting in a restaurant booth made for nice round americans.

The moment I speak several heads swivel towards me to listen. A foreigner is in their midst. Where? There. Is she safe?  Where does she come from?  Why is she here? They tuck their purses closer to their bodies and lower their voices again. And I am blonde and blue eyed.

But now the questions go a step further. It just got worse for us. For the immigrants. That is how I feel anyway.

On Wednesday two people I know reasonably well, asked me if I had voted  – no, I cannot vote – I am not an American. “You’re not? Why not? You can’t vote? Aren’t you a citizen? Don’t you want to be an American citizen?”.  Looking closer. “Oh, so you have a green card? How long does that last? We are not going to have to send you home are we – ha ha ha. Just joking”

Paraphrased but the same conversation – twice.

No-one has asked me if I was a citizen before, if I was documented.

I am sure they did not mean to be unkind but they have a duty now – to check, you see.

In two years my green card is up for renewal. My next logical step is to apply for citizenship. (Which is not a rubber stamp, this also needs lots of money, and exams and more checks, proof that I still live with John, that I am embedded, no threat, not out of the country too often, etc). But America confuses me now, I am a little afraid.

The atmosphere is changing.

Becoming a citizen is not the right step for me.

But I have a farm and a husband and his family here in the midwest and the farm harbours a number of souls in my care. I have a home here too. And no money to start again elsewhere even if I wanted to.

You see? barn

And all yesterday and all last night and all this morning I was thinking about this. Trying to think my way past these words into how I was feeling about them. And when I went to write my blog this morning before sunrise like I usually do,  these words would not get out of my way.

So I waited a while and now I give them to you.

celi

197 thoughts

  1. As an English person living in Bulgaria we have the same problem…and it all stems from Brexit…do we get Bulgarian. Citizenship..do we get. Bulgarian passport?.. What will happen? Certainly there is no answer…we expats just have to wait but however long we wait we cannot be totally accepted. Also we do not vote but as l do not understand the politics that is not a problem. I can feel your sadness my dear Celi, your uncertainty,your insecurity..but all will be well.Hold your head up high..they should feel proud that you have chosen to live in their country..as weird as it is

  2. I empathise with your confused feelings. When I was younger I lived abroad for a number of years and was seriously taking steps to settle there – until I got pregnant. This completely changed my outlook on life and I started making moves to return “home”. The problem is that the “home” I returned to was no longer the place I’d left, it had mutated.
    We all need that feeling of belonging. I do sincerely hope you find it.

  3. I was born and raised in this country, but after Tuesday, it feels like a foreign country to me as well. Very disheartening. You are not alone in your disappointment in the citizens of this country–a lot of us citizens feel the same way.
    xoxo
    m

  4. It makes me sad that you are asked all these questions. We are all on this earth together, why does it matter so much what country we happen to be born in? I think part of it may be people are just making conversation. Since having a baby people are constantly asking me questions about him, even shouting out ‘How old is he?’ as they walk past me on the street. It is nice in a way but all these questions can get exhausting. One of the nice things about London is that nearly everyone here is an outsider, very few people grew up here all their lives so a different accent isn’t a big deal. I hope the atmosphere doesn’t become too hostile for you following Trump’s unfortunate win.

  5. I’d like to tell you not to take these questions personally or take them to heart, but I know that is foolish. People are so careless so often. I don’t think people really MEAN to hurt others with their words, but they often do, carelessly. It’s not just Americans though. People everywhere are wary of “strangers” & often just naturally curious about someone who is different from them. I wish there was a way to be “curious” without being careless & rude, but most people are not taught this. We had a disabled son (recently deceased) & people often stared & asked rude questions about him. I hurts – it does! I’m afraid the future is uncertain for all of us, so please know that you are loved (MUCH loved) in the Farmy Fellowship and feel at home with us. I’m sorry you feel uncertain. May the future be glorious & filled with wonder as you continue to share with those of us who love you. Blessings!

  6. I welcome you here. I am just an old reader and I feel so many times the same as you. isn’t it awful that you have these feelings but so do I at this time and place. My two daughters are lesbians, married and police officers. they were born here yet neither feels that they are now safe. Safe from hate, or misogyny. I have written them both and stated that I would lay down my life for them if need be in the future but . . . . isn’t it a shame that so many americans and non-americans are feeling doubt and fear. Our country will survive this maelstrom but I wonder what it will do to our psyches. At least my farm babies and Sheila and your farm babies will make us happy. So celebrate the fact that you have a great life and the future, though dark now, will get brighter. I love your words and your blog and by design I love you. I’m too old to care, but you are my future and the future of this country since we were all immigrants. Drink some tea, go out and hug Sheila, watch the little piglets caper and cavort and know that you are loved.

    • My son is half black ans half white – my grandson is 1/4 black but somehow looks Hispanic. I worry for them, in Florida. My dad is in Arkansas and is worried for his healthcare as he is elderly and not made of money. I wish your daughters the best, and thank you for sharing this.

  7. I will stand by you in your right to be here. Little solace in your moments of wonder and worry. I would stand by you if you were from any of the groups that now feel fear like they have never felt before. I am a white, upper class woman who believes in the worth of ALL people. Gather yourself up. We, those of us that don’t feel fear and hatred towards other because of their skin color, or nationality, or race, or gender or who they love, we will stand up for you if it becomes apparent that you need it. We will link arms with you and the others. If it comes to it, we will stand in front of you and make it clear that going back 75 years in time is simply not going to be allowed.

  8. thank you for this. and what you didn’t say is that you are anglo. White. and i agree with Melissa above….i feel
    alien now. i cannot imagine how i might feel if i wore hijab or my spanish accent could mean danger for my children.

  9. I don’t know what to say Celi as I have not experienced the things you have, but I can empathize with you. Worrying times indeed.

    • There has been a lot of fuel thrown into the fire – I think it will burn out and we will all get back to the exciting challenges of living together harmoniously (unless there is more fuel thrown into the fire that is). c

      • “living together harmoniously”………….. YES ~~~ my great grandparents came when america said ‘ come one, come all ‘ and so they did , and so they still should. we are all “ONE” … i am embarrassed of the electoral vote and hope that the world does not see all of us in this light , because i love and welcome all . i have not intoduced myself in the past but have been enjoying your blog daily for months , you inspire me ~ many times i wanted to respond to the beauty you remind us of daily. thank you for the energy and time, and love that you share . with love and hugs, holly

  10. And you are white….until you open your mouth and speak, you are not seen as “different”. My daughter is an ex-pat like you, America has been her home for over 20 years, she’s married and had all her babies there…….I have wondered too if she’ll no longer be welcome. and like someone else said, her “home” , here in Australia, has mutated and although it’s where her family is, it’s no longer her home in the sense that her life is not here, we have all moved on. And like you, she doesn’t have the money to resettle here. It’s scary for everybody.

  11. I have a friend who is an American citizen and married to a fellow in England and just had to go through all the hoops there to gain her resident alien documents, secure a job and generally get on with live. There were a few months there where she was certain that there was not going to be an approval, that she would be deported back to the U.S. I also know a family member who married someone here illegally, working here illegally. They had five kids together and it took a very long time to get things squared away for them. The person had to go back to their native country for several months before there would be any paperwork even started. They did finally get their green card, and yes, after a lot of expense and worry and fear and disruption of their children’s lives. I think part of the difficulty with the tenor of things in this country right now is not so much because of who did or didn’t get elected, it has more to do with the number of illegal immigrants, the arrival of numbers of people who do not want to actually become part of America, whether as resident aliens or to eventually become citizens. We have several persons in the immediate neighborhood who are calling themselves the reformers of America and who are very disinclined to change anything they used to do in their native countries. There is a lot of friction and discomfort about them, how they try and force the rest of us, citizens all, to adopt their customs and beliefs. It is even occasionally getting violent, which is wrong, and the offenders are not the citizens. Some of the difficulty is, I think, also a result of people simply not making the effort to inform themselves of the mechanisms of immigration to America. I, for one, salute you for your efforts to be a legal resident, there are many who won’t bother. As an American citizen, I am the child of immigrants, it just depended on when they came here, I am grateful they did. For all its problems, disagreements, and insane politics, America is still a great place to live.

  12. Beautifully stated. While the words may not be fast flowing they are filled with your heart. I feel them. I too lack words. After our past year’s adventures overseas I’m really at a loss. And I will offer this…while this may not be your “home,” I feel more at home with you than most places.

  13. Hello Cecile, My partner for 19 years is an immigrant as well with a green card but also retains his Dutch citizenship. At times like this he is at odds with what is happening in our country as am I. When we are frightened we often look at “flight”. He chose the USA and continues to do so. It is now his home and family. I so understand all the things you refer to and let us hope this will pass with time. Peace and Love.

  14. I’m sorry that so many of my fellow Americans seem to be buying into the message of hatred and fear, bigotry and racism, xenophobia and misogyny. That’s not, in my view, what we are supposed to be about. We are a country formed from ex-pats (and of course the trampling of rights of the original residents). It feels right now like we are going backwards but I do not believe that we won’t get through this difficult time and move forward. It is a scary time and I empathize with you. I don’t much feel I belong in my own country these days, how much harder it would be to have those ignorant fools shouting that if you don’t like it you should go home.

  15. I once worked at a bank located on the University of Minnesota campus where every other person who sat at my desk was from somewhere else, mostly from other countries. I often asked where they were from. It was my curiosity about the world that inspired this, it was never meant as an insult or interrogation. My next question was usually asking them to tell me something about their original home. I know that if I had heard your lovely voice, I would have asked you the same questions. I felt this gave me the opportunity to learn something new about the world, people, culture or geography. My curiosity may have been inspired by the fact that my mother met my father overseas after WWII and she made her home in the States. My questioning was always kindly done, and never meant to harm, but your comments have made me wonder. While I always felt this exchange enriched both my mind and soul, now I wonder if it was at their expense.

    • I’ve been wondering the same thing—I almost always ask people I’m meeting where ‘home’ is to them, knowing that if they have fled a difficult place, it might simply be here, where they’ve arrived safely, but never with the idea that their being different is anything but interesting and attractive to me. I see from C’s comments that it may easily be taken as quite the opposite, especially now when the national tenor is one of distrust and antagonism.

      I’m with all of the other commenters here who say similar things about what feels like Home: suddenly I feel I am an alien in my birth country. What has been elected, if not by the popular vote then at least by the ruling system in the US, goes against nearly everything I have valued about the claims America has made as a nation. If we are to find ourselves ruled by fear and hatred of anything Other than our own selves and our own beliefs and desires, I will think that the so-called American Dream has moved abroad. Anywhere but here. Yet I am with so many others who also say, how can we allow fear and hatred to cozen and hijack our home, our dreams? Only by standing in solidarity and peace and hope with our fellow unique-yet-merely-human, ordinary-yet-extraordinary citizens can we begin to temper the tantrums and see each other (even those we think extremists because *they* are so different in their expression of self) as having value, having a place, and having a contribution to make in it.

      Onward and upward.
      Kathryn

  16. A beautiful post. Like you, my husband is an immigrant, with his first green card that he must carry at all times. Like you, he too receives the odd comments, the stares, and questions of ignorance. And like you, he will have a decision to make about citizenship in a few years time (K1s work a little different in that they have to go through 2yr green cards and then 10yr green cards but citizenship can be obtained well before then 10yr is up).. so yes a tri-fold process of great expense and headache in which people you don’t know are constantly scrutinizing your legitimacy as a human being and the love you share for your spouse). You have a right to be here and there are millions of us who will defend to the death that right. But it’s not just America that’s changing.. it’s a global thing now, of which there is not many safe havens left of respectability and peace. Choosing citizenship can be a difficult decision to come to, but for the most part so long as your home country allows it, you may be a dual citizen – a part of both countries.. your own dual person of which no one can take away from you. So many immigrants have felt in despair this week, and I struggle to comfort them, including my own husband. He has gone through it twice now, with Brexit and now this. I am at a loss because I don’t even know how to comfort myself with the outcome. But I do know one thing, we must never let them win. Fear is what they want, and we should not give them the satisfaction of it. Those who harbor hatred are a dying breed, and they will always rattle loudest before death. Every immigrant that becomes a proud citizen is a defeat to them. Every child we raise (so that they can in turn raise their children’s children) and teach the values of respect, kindness, and freedom – will ensure it to be gone forever.

    • I loved this comment – well written – I have had many young people work with me on the farm this summer and they make me smile with delight – good, generous, well read, eager to learn and a real credit to your country and the future of the planet. The future will be safe in their hands I think – these children of ours. c

  17. Before I read this, I had been one of those Americans inclined to ask the expat living here where they were from and why they were here. In my view it was always out of respect and curiosity. I understand now that being bombarded by these seemingly minute inquiries on a regular basis may compound for the one being asked into a feeling of alienation. I speak for myself when I say this, but just know that there are a lot of people in this country that I have crossed paths with that want you and all other people of the world to be in America if they want to be. That is the fairy tale dream of the “melting pot” that we are taught from the beginning of school. Unfortunatley there are many here that don’t abide by that viewpoint in practice.
    What happened Tuesday was disheartening on many levels and I sympathize for you. I just hope that in two years, if you want to stay, you are able to because our country is better for having you in it.
    P.S. Winnie (One of Marmalade’s brood) is doing quite well!
    Best,
    Remic

  18. I have been in shock these past two days. Going between bouts of anger and crying (something I have never EVER done after an election). I cannot imagine how you must be feeling but having been born and raised in the U.S., I now feel like I live in an occupied country. I feel someone needs to start an underground movement like the French Resistance in WWII.

    • I hope you start to feel better soon – it may not be as bad as the rhetoric – let’s hope not anyway – it will all quieten down again soon and everyone can get back to work. I hope today will be better for you. c

  19. I actually don’t really even understand this post and will probably receive hateful comments for it, but as a Trump supporter I see things very differently. Even saying you’re a Trump supporter garners hateful comments from those that accuse Mr. Trump of being hateful. My mother-in-law is from Germany. She has a green card. She has had no trouble here, and no one has given her a hard time. My good friend is a Trump supporter; she is from Canada and lives here in the U.S. She feels very at home here. The media did a very fine job adding fuel to the fire portraying Mr. Trump as a hater. His problem is with “illegal” immigration. ILLEGAl. A man at my husband’s work is Ukranian. He listened to all the hype and was terrified that he would be deported if Trump won the election. My husband (who is fine with someone from the Ukraine living here) explained that it is Illegal immigration that Trump has a problem with. This man relaxed and actually voted for Mr. Trump. So sad how the media fuels the frenzy. I have read of black people, as well as hispanic people, who are seeing through all this and refusing to believe the media lies and voted for Mr. Trump. Fuss at me if any of your readers will, but there may be some who are haters, but many are not haters of those born in another country who live here. My daughter crossed path with a woman.This woman was so excited; she was from Mexico and had just become an American citizen. She did it lawfully. She sacrificed much! It is illegal immigration that is the problem. And all countries have a legal immigration process, but somehow “legal” immigration has become muddled, apparently a hateful concept. Illegal immigration is lawless; legal immigration is lawful. I couldn’t possibly expect to go to another country without following their rules of immigration, and yet those in the media and those in our political body have confused people into thinking that somehow expecting people to follow the laws of immigration is somehow hateful. So sad for the divisiveness of this country. As a Trump supporter, I welcome all who come to this country lawfully. I LOVE to learn of different cultures, different ways of life.

    • Everyone has the right to speak on this blog as honestly as they want to – and there will never hateful comments in reply.The Fellowship are not like that. We are a gentle open minded bunch. I seldom drift into the political arena but often speak from my heart and expect you to feel safe speaking from yours. c

    • Thank you for your message, friend. It is not the politics of *either* deeply flawed party or candidate (I humbly suggest there’s never been or could be anything else, anyway—we’re only human) I reject, nor in fact the often wildly inaccurate portrayal of them by press pundits and the public. It’s certainly not the supporters of any particular candidate or idea that deserve scorn. It’s the encouragement in this current environment to embrace a sort of mob mentality, to speak without consideration of anyone else’s feelings or even safety, knowing that—as you so clearly point out—the loudest voices belong to those few who *would* and do use them to separate, intimidate, and isolate people from each other if it gives them the sense of advantage or power. The calculable, provable facts rarely seem to enter into the discussion at all.

      We have allowed ourselves to become a seeming nation of polarized extremists, no matter what the version, or at least the majority of my non-American friends around the world see us in such an unflattering light right now. Until we can get to the point of having civil, reasoned conversations and actually listening to and collaborating with each other, it will continue to be tough going. That said, I know I am fortunate beyond words to be in the midst of a group of friends, colleagues, and neighbors with whom differences, instead of being the constant center of our attentions, are merely the seasoning of a rich stew of everyday life. I hope that the practical realities of governing and bettering this huge, messy, amazing country will keep us *all* too busy to be engaging in name-calling and pettiness and fear-mongering of any kind. Your willingness to speak your thoughts gently and peacefully, whether with a minority or majority view, says volumes about your part in making things better, and I thank you for it.

      Kathryn

  20. Unfortunately that is the downside of moving countries. I was born and lived in South Africa for 25 years, then moved to the US and became a citizen. Unknowingly, I lost my South African nationality and citizenship by doing so and now can no longer claim to be South African nor even live there or visit without a visa.

      • Oh yes, very happy here indeed.
        Problem is I have inherited a flat in Cape Town and having nightmares trying to get it registered in my name, open a bank account etc. What a country!

        • Ah – well red tape is the worst tape of all they say. And I hear that communications can be difficult too. I have friends in Jo-berg who can not get their mail without getting to a Post Office that is unreachable due to something or other. I hope that things work out for you and the flat.. c

  21. Celi…This post has expressed clearly, what so many must feel and be concerned about. Please know that all the baggage that has come with the President Elect does not represent me or any other decent, respectful American. I sure hope that all his threats were “hot air,” and am so ashamed that our country is in this position. From the time I have spent reading your blog, it is clear to me that you are a decent, responsible, bright and sensitive woman, who deeply cares for this earth. Thank you for all of your contributions to this world.

  22. My maternal grandmother was Canadian. She married my grandfather in 1914 in Oregon and became an American citizen as soon as the marriage certificate was signed and the ceremony was over. At that point she was an expat in the US, but they moved to Red Deer, Alberta, Canada and homesteaded there for 5 years and my grandfather became an expat in Canada! After the 5 years, they sold the place and moved to Indiana to be near family and because the weather was much better. I remember my grandfather’s sister saying (years after my grandfather had died) that my grandmother always seemed such a foreigner to her, that she had to be taught American ways, as if she were uncivilized. I thought that was very unkind of her.

  23. I understand. I am asked the same questions, and yet somehow, I feel that I am welcome here and belong here. Perhaps it is because I had my children here. It has bound me to this place in a way I would not be. And Italy has been criss crossed by “immigrants” for millennia. They ask the questions, but at the same time, they do not bat an eye. We are all travelers on the planet, and they seem to know that.

    • That is truly wonderful. And yes – travel is not new – settling in a new land is not new either – but the paper is new I think.. we need to do research on that actually – when did Visa’s and green cards and work permits come into play i wonder. c

      • Citizenship papers have been around a long time relative to our lifetimes. Not everywhere I suppose, but they had them in Rome, and the despised gypsies were people “without papers.” I wonder who invented the idea…. Hmm. There’s a pretty interesting Wikipedia article on the history of citizenship: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_citizenship. It looks like “green cards” were invented shortly after WWII, though there was paperwork for permanent non-citizens before that. Fascinating, and unfortunate that it’s a cause of strife.

  24. Thoughtfully written. I have been in shock and denial since waking up Wednesday, grasping for some way to understand and accept, thinking about how to be a part of what we need to change. I had a conversation today with a young man with a green card. He asked me if I thought Trump would send him back to Vietnam, I assured him that wouldn’t happen. I am praying I am right. Peace and love

    • Oh he is quite fine – no-one wants to send home people with the correct documents. That will not happen. It cannot. The law is quite specific. It is more the checking up that worries me – the suspicion. But this is world wide too – people becoming afraid of immigrants. c

  25. Celi, this country was built by immigrants unless you are 100% native American and there are few of them, then each of us has immigrants in our heritage. I don’t know how this country could have brought this despot to power, it frightens me that he has given voice to the bigots whose voice has been tempered in the last 55 years. His mother was an immigrant from Scotland. His wife is an immigrant who has become a citizen. Is he going to be selective of the immigrants he doesn’t want in our country? We all need to be kind to each other and support each other over the next few years. I fear for the rights of women, LGBTs, minorities, and immigrants (legal and otherwise). As a retired educator, I worked with many immigrant students and their families, always wonderful people. My son teaches at a university that has a huge Muslim and Latino population as well as many less privileged students who rely on federal grants to help pay for their education. He is worried about his students, and in turn about his job if the platform set out is implemented. Let us be strong together, grow our gardens and our critters, love our family, and hope that saner minds will prevail.

    • I think kindness is one of the most underrated qualities in a person. And yes – back to work all of us. I love that word Critters – so American! I applaud your son and have a friend who teaches in texas who is struggling with the same fears . But she also said – lets wait and see – and cross those bridges when we come to them.. c

  26. I think the powers that be will be busy for quite some time on the 11 million that “shouldn’t” be there if indeed they ask anyone to leave at all, I doubt they will move onto those who should and can be there, please cast these thoughts away.
    I saw a great Trump quote today from 1998 when he said in an interview “If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.”
    Even if it’s not a true quote, it should make you laugh.
    The beauty of been an expat in Poland is that I haven’t got a clue what anyone says to me 🙂

  27. My great grandmother immigrated from Australia in the 1940s and married a sheep farmer in the back roads of Idaho. I know that she faced a lot of pressure from being an outsider who married one of the only “eligible men” in their small (no, TINY) town. She died just last week at 97, and I’ve just realized that it never occurred to me to ask her if she was a citizen, and if she was, how hard it was to get there.

    I have several friends who are not citizens, and most of the time it’s not relevant (what a wonderful world we live in that “non-a-citizen” doesn’t equal “lower class” or “not a real person” for most people). If my friends’ immigration status comes up, it’s because they’re so much a part of the American melting pot that I forget that a question as natural as, “Who did you vote for?” could be embarrassing or push someone away. You’ve given me a lot to think about there.

    Thank you for sharing, for the reminder of the complexity of immigration and how close it is to home. I’ll come to your hearing and argue that you are a productive member of our society if you need it. 🙂 To slow down future immigration is one thing, but if the government decides to start kicking legal permanent residents out, I’ll fight just as hard as anybody.

    Hugs, Laura

  28. My daughter-in-law is Canadian, here with a green card my son and her paid thousands of dollars, miles in gas and hours upon hours in time to get while they were still in college and just after. I don’t know if nor care if she ever does become an American citizen and would be rather angry with someone who even jokingly said anything about her being “deported!” What in the h*** is wrong with people? Thank you for writing this. You brought something to my attention that I wouldn’t have thought about. I would protect my daughter in law with my life.

  29. As an Australian – White, several generations Aussie – I see those kinds of anti-migrant tensions brewing here, too, and wonder what happened to turn our nation into a bunch of fear-riddled refugee-hating people. It really is a mess here, and the way our government responded with joy at the election of Trump says a lot about the current state of our country. I can’t imagine how tough your situation is. I have listened to my Asian, Latina, Middle Eastern, Eastern European and African friends in my multicultural end of Melbourne talk about the huge battles they faced in becoming Australian citizens. All I can do, I think, is offer to listen (and I’ve helped a few of my them with their citizenship applications). But it’s so hard in a country that is paranoid about ‘outsiders.’ They feel it every time they step out of their doors. The sideways glances, the frustration at their sometimes difficult to understand accents, their culturally ingrained habits that don’t mesh with Aussie assumptions about behaviour. It’s so hard for them and I had no idea until I started asking them to tell me what it’s like for them. It was so eye opening. And sad. I hope things in the US improve, as I hope they do here.

  30. My daughter-in-law is from Canada, my nephew from Ireland. I know all about the long expensive process. But let me say this to you…there are many of us who are glad you are here. You enrich our lives —like a breath of fresh air or new dreams for those who stay in the same place.

    Linda

  31. 😢 What a sad and bewildering world we live in right now. I feel your confusion. Big Man speaks hardly any English and several times recently he has been insulted by my fellow British and told to “bugger off back to where he comes from” despite the fact that he pays taxes, employs local people and invests in this town. In Spain I have it a little easier as I speak almost fluent Spanish but I have often heard comments about The British “coming over to Spain, taking our jobs, using our health care system and generally being good for nothing apart from enjoying cheap alcohol”. I don’t know the answers and that makes me sad and very confused.

  32. I think it’s difficult all over. If a European wants to live in France, one must still apply for a Carte de Séjours (I know, I’ve got one) and getting a permit to live in New Zealand is probably as hard as getting a Green Card. My sister is married to an American and as soon as she got her Green Card she moved, with her husband, back to England because she didn’t like America. Her poor husband then had to go through the British system for residency – probably as hard as the American. Things in Europe could get worse, there are elections coming in France and Germany, both of which have growing nationalist political parties.

    • Yes getting permission to live in a new country is getting harder. New Zealand sends everyone home to apply, they cannot be living in NZ until they get approval. And they are tough. In America at least you can live IN the country while you wait. I just wanted to point out that it is rigorous – it is not as easy as many American people think. And impossible unless you have really real money to pay for the applications and the lawyers. c

  33. I immigrated to the US decades ago. Getting my green card was not a problem. I don’t remember paying a lot of money for it or filling out a lot of papers. On one of my visits to Berlin long ago, my husband, son and I had to cross the boarders into East Berlin on different checkpoints. I decided then that I never wanted to be separated from my family again and became an American citizen . Just like you Celia I get ask many times where I’m from . I am saddened and heart broken by the recent events .

  34. Thank you for taking the time to express your thought an words, I can only say that I hope things settle down and that time will prove that those within the legal process will always be welcome..

    For five years I had the very beautiful and challenging chance to both live in my country of Canada and as the same time live in a space, place and time where both English and being white made us very much “other”, the high artic with its inuit culture, language and 3rd world living conditions, combined with living in a fly in and out above the tree line gave me a solid idea of what its like to be in a new country, and how to hand talk, so much visiting with hand talking and body lang

    I will tell you a wee story, its a true story.. I had not been there more then a few weeks when my door opened and closed and a wee piping voice started talking to my dogs in Inuktitut and there was a beautiful 4 year old, she was taking off her coat and boots, she greeted me with a smile and chatter and somehow in my shock made it plain she expected tea and bannock, so I feed her and tried to find out where she had come from and where she was going. she chatted away an clearly was thankfully, then she went to get her boots and coat and she was on her way, I got ready with her and followed, we walk to a home where she let herself in, introduced me to a lovely grandmother.. one of the teenagers in the house explained to me, that her mom had taken a nap, she had wanted to see grandma, an so had left, got thirsty and hungry and so stopped about half way and then continued on..

    Every time I saw her grandmother, she would close mouth smile and touch me and natter on. and I would smile nod and hand talk.. I often think now.. why did I let her just guide me, hot drink please, cookie jar? and so forth.. why did I not call someone.. but she seemed so sure of herself and for all I knew she lived two houses down..

    Hugs Miss C and many blessing to all

  35. Everybody has expressed my thoughts so brilliantly already, but I wanted to just say how much I appreciate you writing this–and holding a space for all points of view here. Because somehow we need to bridge the differences that polarize this country and one way to start doing that is to listen. With love and compassion, if possible. Thanks, Celi.

    • yes Charlotte – ones personal political preference should not interfere with relationships – my parents always voted for dfferent parties and laughingly agreed to not discuss it – it is a whole different kettle of fish in America. The passions run high. But here in the Lounge of Comments I enjoy it when we can listen and nod, not agree sometimes but there should be no name calling. My Mum used to say if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. And it works. Silence has a lot of power. Let’s
      get busy building those bridges – well said Charlotte.

  36. I have been ill for the last 2 days and am barely functioning. As a naturalized citizen, I don’t worry about deportation but my passport is always up to date. My mother jumped through many hoops and had long lessons before getting her citizenship which was required. Dad was U.S. military. I have never had that sense of belonging in either country. People treat others that are different from themselves so badly. Now I’m seeing signs of the the Berlin wall being erected on American soil. The terror inside me is palpable. I had a feeling when you did not post early, you might be struggling with this too. It will all come out in the wash but what will it take down the drain with it. An election has NEVER left me so terribly unsettled in my soul. The tyranny starts small then escalates to unimaginable proportion. You are not alone in your concerns. We have never had the kind of protests after an election that we are having now either. When will we learn?

  37. Where I grew up in the suburbs of NYC, in the ’50s and early ’60s, it was not cool to be from a family like mine. I was not an outcast, but I was not welcome in many homes because we were a very ethnic family (think of the scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding when she is eating Moussaka at school and is the swarthy, “different” child. That was me!). My crime was being from a large Italian and Jewish Jewish family (with totally embarassing aunts and uncles), so we had a double whammy. My parents just wanted the best for me, but it gave me a very different view of the United States as a kid, even though I was born here. The White/Anglo-Saxon/Protestant town I grew up in was not welcoming of anyone different, even though I was told in school that America is a melting pot and all are welcomed. In my early twenties I moved to Israel, and am a dual citizen even now, which gives me yet another point of view (and being an immigrant in a country where I did not speak the language as fluently as I would have liked was a very humbling experience).

    The thing that has disturbed me during this whole election cycle has been the feeling that people are beginning to feel okay to indulge in hate and prejudice speech, I am not saying that either side is better than the other in this department. But I am hoping that we can build a way forward together, and not keep pointing to the fact that half the country voted a different way from each of us. It’s done. Even though my chosen candidate did not win, I feel like a lead weight is off my shoulders and we just need to move forward in a positive way. Be the change we want to see, building peace as we go. I know we are capable of it! And we love having you here, Celi!

    • I hope you invite me to your next big family wedding! Your family sounds GREAT! Did you know that This year I had three Jewish farm workers (who did not know each other of course – all arriving independently) and the food they made!! Wow. We all loved hearing about their Grannies and talking about their New york upbringings . c

  38. I’m a reverse immigrant – I left America for Ireland. I also get those questions, but people here are nosy as hell and are always trying to place me into the group of people they know. I still find it odd how often people here use my name when talking to me. Not something Americans do at all. Of course I’m inundated with questions now about the election, why did it turn out this way, why did so many women vote for him, etc. I can’t answer that, I’ve been in Ireland going on 12 years. I was last there 6 years ago and definitely got culture shock.
    Ireland is home for me. And I tell people that, when they ask. I never felt comfortable over there. Cleveland was grand, but my upbringing in, sorry to say it, redneck Florida, was never comfortable at all.
    I need to try yet again to become an Irish citizen. I have tried several times but it seems I need a lawyer to help me, and as I used to work in law I rebel against needing outside help!

    • I am so happy that you have found your home – i think many of us move about the world looking for our homes- I hope you find yourself a nice lawyer and get to be a citizen – that will be a grand feeling so it will.. c

  39. I could not write anything for the longest time after reading this. I had no idea about your life other than what I have read since I joined the Fellowship. Reading your feelings (and those of others here)… I get a lump in my throat and a wave of something awful in the pit of my stomach. I realize I have been horribly ignorant of other’s lives – probably because I do not ask questions and unless someone expresses their thoughts, feelings or concerns, I assume everything is fine. I now find myself very overwhelmed by the fear being expressed here. I have been ignorant – not knowing how immigrants and green card holders might feel. I know very little about the process or the expense. My grandfather immigrated here easily at the age of sixteen – escaping a socialist country. He was so happy to be an American. Back then it was a matter of a little paperwork on entry, and sponsorship by a legal American citizen.
    And while I have every right in the world to vote as I wish, for the last two days I have been met with hostility and hatred. I am reeling with a wounded heart… viciousness from people from the blog world I felt close to and trusted… I felt knocked in the teeth and labeled – incorrectly I might add. Jill H. pretty much covered my thoughts about ILLEGAL immigration and what the media has caused – creating chaos and instilling fear. My vote for Trump came down to economic change and creation of jobs. The state I live in is in dire straights – we are an energy driven state and jobs have dwindled over the last eight years. People are struggling, crime has increased tremendously, businesses have closed up, and our schools are ranked second from the bottom in the nation. Suicide is at an all time high. I was not concerned about the issues that the media drove home. And I never once thought that anyone who was legally here or who was in the process of achieving citizenship was in any danger of being deported.
    So after reading these emotional comments, and the last two days of being beaten to a pulp, I may have to opt for some of those nights under the stars with Ronnie and Emma deer. I need to clear my head and heal. In the next life I think I’ll come back as a four-legged critter.

    • My husband and I both come from a long line of immigrants, and we are immigrants ourselves. The world is full of immigrants. Perhaps the events of this week will cause people to think more about what that means. The media has a lot to answer for. They create false fears and prey on them for the almighty rating point. I know, I worked in TV for 10 years! See what I wrote to Celi, below… I believe Trump is a catalyst and while some of what he said will not eventuate, some things will change. He will be surrounded with advisors who will hopefully help him do what is right. He has a big enough ego (not that he is alone in that) to not want his Presidential legacy to be one of failure and strife. Go hug Emma and Ronnie 💕

    • Well you are safe here darling girl. No-one is ever allowed to make negative comments to another in this forum. Here we listen and try to understand. I believe everyone has a right to vote for who their heart tells them is the right person and should not be afraid to stand by their choices. This surely is democracy and freedom. In fact I was very careful not to name names or blame politicians for this slight shift in how some people SEE immigrants now. (I am a bit dismayed at the way the comments have swayed into that actually but again we are allowed to speak here and i cannot edit) My daughter in law, also an immigrant from England to New Zealand wrote to me and said she applauded this post because everyone throughout the world should not use immigrant as a dirty word. This is all I was saying really, I am an immigrant just the same as the others. Many, many of us are good and legal and trying to do the best we can. Bless you for being so honest. We all lve you to bits! c

  40. So much of what you said, Celi, I can relate to. I’m an expat, but I am also a citizen of both the USA and the country in which I live, Australia. But still, I feel out of place at times. This usually happens due to certain unkind people. Most people have been kind and welcoming. It takes courage to live in a country other than where you were born, regardless of the reason. My own reason is two fold. I CAME here because this was where the man I married lived, even though at the time he was also an American. He gave up his US citizenship when he became an Australian citizen, because the US required him to–old laws, many years ago. I STAYED here, because it feels like my spiritual home, somehow. So even if a few others don’t think I belong, the Universe thinks otherwise. We are all uneasy at the moment. My husband and I feel that it takes two different skill sets to be in politics, one skill set enables you to win the election, the other enables you to govern. Two different things. We watch, now, and hope a new order will grow from this catalyst called Trump.

    • I’m 5th generation Aussie but because I’m a supporter of the melting pot of nationalities sometimes I’m also considered an outsider by those who aren’t. But my values are considered, informed and logical so I’m proud of them. Our ancestors, except Indigenous Australians (who did but much longer ago) came from somewhere else. I don’t always platform my beliefs but if I’m challenged then I’m quite happy to exercise my right to a say. I can only hope that time, technology, awareness and new generations will carry us globally to beliefs which unite & nuture everyone equally ♡

      • Well said Dale. If you go far enough back we are all from someplace else. And all of us feel like outsiders at some point in life, even if it is just because you show up at a party not dressed in the expected mode of fashion. If we can call on that feeling and be more compassionate it will go such a long way toward uniting the world. xx

        • Ardysez -that reminds me of a story once years ago when my Mum was alive and we were kids we were invited to dinner at someones house that we did not know well. My Mum wore a long velvet skirt and a white top and her pearls. When we got there it was a barbeque with everyone in SHORTS and jandals. My mother carried it off but when we all got back in the van to go home she confessed to her mortification at being so overdressed. We laughed about it later of course about TEN YEARS LATER – it was a scary moment to see my mother out of place. c

    • That is a wonderful way of loking at it – your wording is great. And America is huge – filled with the most wonderful people – I have many of them staying over the summer and they are great and good. I love how you love Australia – wonderful. c

  41. Celi, to me, you are an inspiration, an example of a good steward of the land, able to laugh at yourself, always kind. Any country would be lucky to have you as a citizen or a resident. I am sorry for the remarks of anyone who has made you feel uncomfortable or intruded upon or without a true home. It is my job to do my best to appreciate everyone who is here — a tall order!

  42. I’m pleased you have shared this very personal point of view, although being very private, doing so would have been well considered I imagine. Because at this time, world wide it is what we need. To see each other as individual people who are equal, different but the same, with their own stories who are part of a whole community. It may not feel like the easiest or most natural response to the politics of our respective countries, but hope will serve us far better than fear… this is what I have been telling myself halfway across the globe here in Australia because despite our various borders and bureaucracies we are one world.

  43. Thank you for sharing your journey and for the grace that you bring to this subject. I am sorry for how you are sometimes made to feel. I recently wrote a post about words and how they can cut like a knife and stay with us. It was on a bit of a different slant, but, the crux is the same and the hope is that we are all mindful of what we say.

  44. Oh – I’ve seen the ‘immigrant’ situation from two sides…. my French Canadian husband’s and my own when living in Quebec (Canada) and in Malta.
    (Hell, you can move from state to state here in American and feel like a outsider…)
    My husband was called, by the American government, an “alien’ years ago here in the States…. no kidding! There used to be notices on the television when I was growing up reminding all ‘aliens’ (Green Card holders..) to re-register. And when I first moved to Montreal, I was called a “Landed Immigrant”… as opposed to a ‘Non-Landed Immigrant”? ; o )
    My husband died a Canadian citizen and I can’t tell you how many people were shocked that he never became American. He had to register for the draft during the Vietnam War (I’ve told you that before..) and was in the Army Reserves. No – he couldn’t vote. But he paid taxes etc. etc. I used to ask Americans (who were shocked he hadn’t become a citizen), ‘If you went to England, would you become a citizen of Britain’. All but one said, “No”… and I do believe they saw my point after I asked that question.
    I used to say to Claude, ‘If I live in Quebec until the day I die, I will never be considered more than an ‘English’. (That’s a whole other bucket of fish….) Most Americans – including me – seem to be really, really interested when they hear an accent. I honestly believe they’re just curious and mean no harm. Esp. since you’re a woman, you’re white and you don’t look Moslem…. If you were a male with darker skin …. and … heaven forbid… a beard – them many people…. now-a-days… might get freaked out.
    I too, have always thought it was pretty easy to come to the States if you were married to an American. But I’ve seen, in person, how some American immigration employees treat people who are trying to enter the country. And it disgusted me. Luckily my husband was Canadian and I’m American, so we were able to go ‘back and forth’ between the States and Canada with relative ease.
    There has to be so many things you miss about your own country …. sooo many things that make New Zealand ‘home’ to you. I totally understand my friend. And I so admire your ‘pluck’!!! ; o )

    • You are right – I just wanted to set the record straight that it is not easy to get a Green Card. They don’t just dole them out with a jar of peanut butter and say off you go. That’s all I meant. I don’t feel plucky right at the moment – overwhelmed by this response i think. Thank you for sharing yoour story with us.. c

  45. I think Lady Liberty is going to need a new poem. This one doesn’t seem to fit any more:
    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
    In the UK, where I was born and raised and spent the first half of my life, I was an outsider because my mother was ‘foreign’. Not meekly, quietly foreign, but assertive and loud and different. I learned something from her about how to get ahead as a woman, but also how harsh and divisive other people can be with what is s different. I too am an expat, with both an Australian and a UK passport. I too paid huge sums of money and endured intrusive and never-ending questions in order to achieve residency here in Australia. And here too, I am an outsider, a Pommie, fair game for any kind of Pommie-bashing the ‘real’ Australian perpetrator feels up for, usually couched as a ‘joke’ at my expense. It doesn’t help to point out they’re immigrants too, some only one generation ago. To be a ‘real’ Australian, you have to be born here, apparently, and be Australian by accident rather than by choice.
    Thank you for the thoughtful, and thought-provoking, post today. It’s made me think more about why I put up with the nonsense.

  46. Oh Celi, what a heart-wrenching post. You have laboured to find the words to express something significant. The agony of poor immigrants from non-english-speaking countries must be immense. And the insecurity great. You have spoken for those silent ones.

  47. Thank you Celi for the most important post methinks you have ever written. Written honestly, fairly and wonderfully well. I am supposedly on a month-long blog break after the ‘tectonic shift’ of ‘trainwreck Tuesday’ but so felt I wanted you to know how your words resonate with me. And my mailbox but a few minutes ago was full of notes from weeping and angry and incredulous Americans, many of them expats living in Europe, Mexico, Asia and here. All unable to understand the ‘political nervous breakdown’ [Bob Carr: wellknown Australian Labor politician] which so unexpectedly came about in the States. I believe 88% of Australians would have voted for the socalled ‘bad’ rather than show their abysmal ignorance in voting for the socalled ‘mad’. We have huge geographical security issues here and economically are at opposite poles to the US of today. To Fiona from Australia: Yes, I too listened to Julie Bishop and the very weak Malcolm Turnbull: it was disgusting, BUT said with the future welfare of all of us at heart in as diplomatic a fashion they knew how – methinks their language was as blue as ours behind closed doors. I too was a strange migrant kid way back when: someone out of a circus for the then Anglo-Saxon locals during the difficult teenage years. I was WHITE, I was CHRISTIAN and in time I passed muster: do I feel Australian ? – although I now live in what was the ‘Estonian Village’ for some 60 years, I felt Australian by the time I passed those years. Should Trump actually make it to the Inauguration with his Barbie doll spouse, I wonder how long the ‘honeymoon’ period will last before all those ‘white rural males without a college education’ realize he will be unable to fulfil some 95% of his ‘promises’. Day by day, Celi, day by day . . . . much love . . .

    • Oh Eha we are not here to attack Mr Trump or his beautiful wife and she is rather beautiful. I was merely saying that there is a shift in trust of immigrants now and I think this is really quite world wide. It has been more enabled in America recently and Brixet is reported to be creating a similar atmosphere in England. The USA is not the only country with these troubles. It’s just that sometimes i don’t want to be an immigrant – I want to be ordinary and invisible. c

      • Big, warm smile! Hillary and Michelle were accomplished, intelligent and educated wives: a pride to the country! My apologies to having let about 5% of my feelingworld ‘loose’ here as to how I would have seen it and wanted it said . . . truly . . . . it is just that a few months down the track most of the ‘America’ who voted for the guy will be sorely and sadly disappointed when he will find excuse after excuse why hew could not fulfil his ‘promises’. Please see what I have said on Ardys’ page as I truly cannot take any more time off. Just hope that the guy has not pushed some very inadvertent buttons as far as the world is concerned by that time!! Off on a very work-related break 🙂 !!!

  48. Cecilia, it has been a privilege to “tune in” to your blog these many years.You are quite an extraordinary person, courageous, kind, thoughtful, wise. You are the person I wish I were. Everything I am not. As many of the Followers have admitted, I too have often asked someone where they are from and what their country is like. It is the writer in me–terribly curious about everyone and everything–especially, I should add, about animals. I guess that’s why I ask you for a photo of Sheila opening her mouth to feed her an egg whole!, and assuming, wrongly, TonTon would eschew petting. An armchair farmer.
    I too am sick at heart over this election. And as some above said, the media have a lot to answer for. I wish all of Hillary’s followers would have the class she exhibited. Never mind the opposition!

  49. I just wish to say one thing. America was built by immigrants. We welcome all immigrants as long as they follow our immigration laws and come to our great country through “legal” processes. I believe citizens of most other countries feel this way. If a country has laws that are not followed, a country has no sovereignty. Thanks for letting me comment.

  50. What an eclectic and interesting bunch the Fellowship turns out to be! What a grand mix we’d be at a cocktail party. I can only imagine how homesick you must feel at times, I’ve lived my whole life within 50 miles of my birthplace, not too interesting I’m afraid. I think, with all the strife and awful things happening in the world right now the natural knee jerk reaction is to circle the wagons and look with suspicion at strangers. For my own sanity I have to believe in the basic goodness of human kind and that no matter who wins the elections that goodness will win out.

  51. I am so sorry you feel bad and that you have been made to feel alien. I am taking a long view (after feeling queasy all day Wednesday). We have come through worse and put up with worse than our newly elected president. In two years, there will be elections again. If history is any indication, there will be change. We also have a government that moves at a stately pace. In many instances, that is a very good thing. This would be one of them…

  52. I love and appreciate your words. We are all human beings and I wish and hope we will care for each other, other living beings , plants, etc and the earth
    as much as you take care of your world that you care for and that I read about everyday!!!!!
    Liz

  53. This post puts a person in the faceless idea of an immigrant, that so many people rant on about. I do not understand all the fear.

    I listened to a podcast that noted that this has EVER been the way America has treated her immigrants. We are a nation of immigrants with the exception of the few beleaguered native americans. And always we have treated each successive generation of immigrants with suspicion and hate. Benjamin Franklin made snide comments about Germans that could be written in a blog today about Immigrants.

    I’d like to say we have improved but Tuesday put the nail in the hope.

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  55. Goodness sakes, the response here is unbelievable… unbelievably great! I will have to come back tomorrow to complete my reading of it all.
    Ms C., my heart ached to read your thoughts and fears. What has happened to society to put this feeling of unrest into people? Shame on those who have created it — nay, rather they have normalized it. I have no doubt your immigration status, and anyone’s who is there legally, is quite safe…. but it seems that’s not the point. The real point is the feeling of unbelonging, an uncomfortable feeling just existing in a place you’ve spent ten years in. That is a dreadful state of affairs…. I am not an American so I can’t apologize for that but it makes me sad to think that’s the case. Appears you are not alone.
    I live in a large multi-cultural city where I am fast becoming a minority (white anglo saxon) and I suppose that’s likely the reason I find it difficult to understand the fear people seem to have of strangers.
    There is no question, this election cycle has put the maturing of society back a good 50 years; it’s going to take an enormous amount of time and work to overcome the damage made.
    I hope you find some peace soon, Ms C. We are all citizens of the world and let us all stand up and shout it out! ~ Mame, World Citizen 🙂

  56. So well written. Believe it or not, I am first generation American, a citizen of America, and I feel much the same as you. I am also light skinned and blue-eyed, but when I speak in a foreign language with my mother, we get the same reaction. And it’s been like this all of my life. Thank you for posting this.

  57. I came to this post late. Our farm is crazy busy readying for winter right now. And I’m behind in my reading. I sat for a very long time after reading this post. And I’m not sure even now if I should post my thoughts but I think I will say my part too……
    When we moved from Texas to Montana, I had people ask where I was from every day. Every. Day. They made fun of my accent to my face. People assumed I was ignorant because of how I said words~ not what I said but the way I said them (I have 3 degrees and I am a Masters prepared Nurse Practitioner). I was different. One man asked me if my children rode horses to school in Texas. And then laughed at me when I was slack jawed and dumbfounded that anyone could ask such a foolish question. They asked me if I had a job before we moved here. We had our car egged at night before we traded our TX license plates in for MT plates. It was not fun. We moved from the South to be closer to my husband’s family and chose here because we wanted to grow our children in a place where you could walk into the woods and not see a single evidence of man. We wanted to live in a place where you could go into the mountains and safely drink the water that was bubbling from the earth; it was that clean. We wanted to live in a house where we could only hear owls and coyotes at night~ not traffic and sirens. We wanted to own affordable land where we could grow our own food. We were striving for the “American dream”. And that dream was in MT. At least for us. We WANTED to be here. We joined a church. Our kids swam on the swim team. I volunteered at the community garden (because, oh my goodness, Montana is a whole different world to grow food!!!!) My husband and I gave free sports physicals to kids who couldn’t afford them otherwise (he’s a PA). We became a piece of the community. We didn’t want Montana to be Texas. We wanted to be Montanans. We have lived here for 14 years. After a while, nobody noticed my accent.
    People come to America for lots of different reasons. Sometimes they are dragged. Sometimes they follow. Sometimes they run screaming to the border begging to be let in because where they left is horrifying and they know they would be safe if only they could come inside. America is still the land of milk and honey. In America, we live long healthy lives because of amazing, innovative technologies. (Some of us even have our health care paid for by others). In America, women can own land and run a business and vote and have a place in the community. Children can write their own destiny with hard work. Where but America do you have self-made tycoons? And in America, I can say the name of Jesus and not fear for my life.
    Do we have problems? Yup. Are we sometimes loud mouthed and foul tempered in public? Yup. Freedom allows people to pursue evil as well as goodness. Are we sometimes bullies in the world arena? Yup. But twice in the 20th century, the United States saved the world — first from the Nazi threat, then from Soviet totalitarianism. After World War II, the United States proceeded to rebuild both Germany and Japan, and today they are American allies.
    Honestly, my frustration comes from those who feel our country is “lost and heading in the wrong direction” because of our recent elections. A new red-headed leader doesn’t change our core values nor who we are as a country any more than a black president did 8 years ago. Despite its flaws, American life as it is lived today is the best life that our world has to offer. We are still the place for those who are tired and poor and who long to breathe free. We are still the land for the homeless and sick. American is still America. And our golden lamp, the torch of freedom, will continue the standard of hope that will always overcome darkness.

    Ok…enough of my ramblings. I feel better. Thank you.

  58. This is how I felt after the British voted to leave the EU (I’ll not reduce that emotional period by using the term Brexit), and Brits made it clear by actions (racist attacks, etc.) that immigrants in the UK was unwelcome and surplus to *their* requirement. I also get people asking when I’m going “home” … but that’s always happened here; pre-Brexit. I also get people asking “What do you think of Trump?” (six times on Wednesday), and I nearly bit off the head of the last guy who asked me. It used to be that I was always asked about Bush. Then I was asked about why Americans love guns. Now it’s Trump. Fact is, that vote revealed the true territorial nature of the human race because that wasn’t a British phenomenon — it’s a human phenomenon. and the same thing just played out in America. I’ll bet you France and Germany are next.

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  60. I too am an immigrant but, in my heart, I don’t think I was ever English or British or whatever is now the permitted term. I felt I was in the wrong place ever since the moment I first traveled into France as a child. I now feel I’m in the right place, but I’m clearly not French. For all that, I feel at home here. I’m not sure that I will apply for French nationality because my main objection to the current zeitgeist is the importance of belonging to a club…be it religion, political party or nationality. In that unholy trinity lies the fault line that is slowly eroding the family of man.

  61. I’m an immigrant–an American in Britain–and the granddaughter of immigrants. My own experience makes me wish I’d asked my grandmother (I never knew my grandfather) about her experience of immigration, but I took it for granted then. I didn’t know the questions to ask. To be an immigrant in the land of Trump, though? I feel your uneasiness vibrating through the pixels.

  62. Cecilia-
    I sincerely believe the media has worked up a stormy frenzy which I hope subsides. It is ridiculous- this country has checks and balances and quite frankly some folks need to calm down. Your thoughtful and poignant post resonates with me. I do believe that Mr Trump truly does have the best of intentions to bring this country and it’s residents
    back on track with meaningful jobs, safe cities, healthy and educated children- just to mention a few items that are missing right now. Right now we do not have safe cities, good jobs and children go to bed hungry. This is unacceptable to me and a whole lot of other people. For far too many years there has only been cheap chatter and empty promises coming from the government that is supposed to help not hinder it’s fellow man and woman.
    I will step off my soapbox now and just say- Thanks for your wonderful work on your farm- you truly have a handle on what is important. Hugs across the land – from the mountains of Northern California to you!

  63. Oh Celi .. I was clutching my iPad at home while reading this. I didn’t even realise I was holding my breath until the end of your narrative. Yes, I understand. Keep your chin up Celi .. There is only one of you, and you my dear are very special.

  64. I just felt compelled to tell you a bit of my story, not to overshadow your real experience, but perhaps to flesh in a bit of what you are feeling. I too am an expat. I did not hail from another country, but rather from another state. In the U.S. I was born and raised in Northern California. For 30 years I lived and breathed the air, the politics and the diversity. It is unabashedly a Liberal state. It became a part of me and me a part of it. And even as I yearned to leave, having failed to thrive in my native land, it stayed embedded in my soul. I left California about 20 years ago and have resided in the Midwest ever since. It was a good choice. I was able to immerse myself in my new culture and for the most part, I blend. However, I am often found to be a fraud, a foreigner. And mocked. As much as I have tried to assimilate myself here, my roots shine through, and I hear myself trying to explain. In this part of the country it is perceived that the pilgrim only travels in one direction. West. It does not make sense that one would leave a Utopian climate filled with beautifully tanned people, to journey to a place where dark days claim almost 6 months of the year. This place where houses are modest, incomes are modest and people are unadorned in the most authentic way. I don’t say that in a condescending manner. It is not about the haves and have nots. It’s about being true to your heritage and wearing that proudly like your own skin. It is a place I love and hate. I love these people even as I despise their politics. Not all of them. Probably not even most of them. Fortunately, I live in one of the few blue states left in the region. But there is an ugly intolerance for people who are different, of which I am one. So, I Iive here, though I am not from here. An important distinction. One that often results in a quizzical look followed by the question, “Why would you ever move out here?” After 20 years, I am the “girl from California” wink wink, nod nod. Still. Always. I sometimes feel that I am never understood here. That I must always guard against revealing my true thoughts and beliefs. Always a guest, never a host. And yet, California does not beckon me. It does not care that I was adrift. So I have formed roots, however shallow, in this “new” place. It is Home without the logo. I understand the yearning, the not quite rightness of life here. But I have chosen it, it did not choose me. I could return at anytime and perhaps California would allow it. Yet I know that the longing would follow me. As a tree with a branch lost will seal the wound, so have I formed a scar where my old life became my new. It cannot be erased and is rather a testament to my ability to grow and survive in a sometimes hostile climate. As an Outsider, you are different. We are different. You see that? Already there are two, where you thought there was just one. There are many of us. Here, there and everywhere. We have a right to this place too. We belong. There is no secret society that gets to decide who is good enough. We are good. We are enough. The others might appear to be casting a shadow on your light, but really it is your light that is brightening their darkness. Shine on Cecilia!

    • Wonderfully written Sue and so close to my story. You know I have never thought of the emotional journeys of the people who move around the States. Being transplanted. Living in the midwest is not easy is it! Amd our dark winter days are coming straight down the pike. Good luck to you and thank you for such a well crafted piece of writing. c

  65. Thank you, Celi. As you know, my family tree is populated with immigrants, some quite recent. Instead of Plymouth Rock, their Mayflowers landed on Ellis Island, New Orleans, and other North American ports of entry. As familiar as their stories are to me, there is much I do not know, like the reasons behind Dad’s parents returning to Europe in the early 1920s. Some things just weren’t discussed. Your post not only sheds light on your situation but, in the process, theirs as well.

      • You’re correct, Celi, but their return trip from France was after Ellis Island was already closed. Besides, having been born here, they would have avoided the Island altogether. My grandparents, however, were processed through Ellis. I found those records, as well as their names on the passenger lists of the boats that carried them. Along the way, I located records for quite a few family relatives, some of whom I had long forgotten. It’s a fascinating undertaking.

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  69. Hi Cecilia
    I came to know of your post from another food blog I read. Your article tugged at my heart. I migrated from Sri Lanka to New Zealand and lived there for a decade before moving to the USA. This past year has been a year of fear and continues to be so. I am a Muslim and have my sons one born in the USA and one in New Zealand. They grew up in the states, American and patriotic as another American would be. The way things are going I just fear for them. I lived through a civil war in Sri Lanka for 25 years. I escaped that to live in New Zealand. You are so right in what you mention. Many people in the USA do think that the opportunity to live in the USA came on a plate just served to you. But the pile of money, papers and time that it took is a story that is hardly spoken of. Like you now I wonder, if there ever will be a place I could call home again, after Ieft my home. Although I am a citizen here, I feel with all that has been going on that I will never be a full citizen, due to my faith, my color and the political climate in the country. But Cecilia, I know one thing for sure, we were brave enough to leave our comfort zone, come with two bags, go through the harrowing immigration process and still continue to smile and make every day a great day for ourselves and others. That is who we are. It is the immigrants that always adds color to a country. I wish you all the best always.

    • Zeena, thank you so much for writing. What a story you have and what world travellers you and your family are. You will have seen so much. You are right about the two bags. I always say I came with two bags and I can leave with two bags. In fact when I travel now I often only take a cabin bag and it has everything I will ever need in it. It is hard isn’t it. Any time you and your boys are close to where I am do come here to visit. It would be my pleasure to be your host and hear some of your stories. Much love. cecilia

  70. Interesting post about being an immigrant/expat. My family and I sought refuge in Canada after having been expats in Sri Lanka. So, I don’t remember much because I was too young but my parents sure did sacrifice a lot for their children.

  71. I so feel very similar to you.. belonging is a word I look at with some scare now. It has a double side of gain and loss which feels so though to me at the moment.. it was nice reading your thoughts on the matter. 🙂 thanks for letting them out

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