Week four, day six of the A to Z Blog Challenge: eXpatriate. (So I’m pushing it ever-so-slightly with the X. I hope you’ll indulge me.) An expat is someone who is temporarily or permanently living somewhere other than his or her country or culture of origin. I’d like to add, in my case, living in a family other than the family of origin – that is to say, being adopted. This post, then, is about navigating the separation of time and space between my country and family of origin, where I am now, and finding myself in between. I originally drafted this in 2009, but I still feel it. The original title was Keeping Time.
On BA 2227, I find myself once again flying between continents, between time zones, between lives. My mother lived all those years five hours ahead of me. Still, it took me 37 years to catch her up. Today, I head back from a visit for Nana’s funeral. Nana, who welcomed me like no other; Nana, who offered to keep me all those decades ago; Nana, who told my mother she wanted me found before she died; Nana, who has now passed into some time zone for which none of us has a watch.
My children and grandchildren wait for me to travel back to them; to retrace myself; to live five hours behind with them. They have lived in one family, on one continent, in one time zone all their lives, with everything marching at an even pace, as though their clockwinder is somehow more consistent than mine.
In midair, in the between time, I find the space to let my sense of self unwind and then rewind, realizing that each time I make this journey across continents and time and families, I am somehow growing my own sense of time and rhythm, becoming my own pendulum. I don’t have the steady beat of the grandfather clock that looms at the end of the hall. Within me, the pendulum is syncopation– off-beat but nonetheless keeping time.