When I immigrated to the unites states, to follow my American dream (yes, we non-Americans have that dream as well, sometimes even more strongly from the outside world) I didn't anticipate the sacrifice that was in store for me.
Yes, I knew well that I would miss my family and friends, and my favorite foods and smells in my home town, and the language I grew to only speak and write in.
But I didn't fully understand the sacrifice that a full immersion would bring along.
It was in my first year in New York, at the acting conservatory I was a student in, that a light bulb turned on in my head: In the middle of a scene (Eugene O'Neill if I remember correctly) I had to say the words 'I LOVE YOU.'
But I have never said those words before.
Those sounds never came out of my mouth with the vibrational pull that comes along when one utters words of love to another.
I have LOVED before, sure. Several times, in fact...
BUT I spoke Hebrew when I expressed those words before, so the actual words 'I LOVE YOU' were fresh and vacant of actual lived experience.
Of course, I learned a lesson in acting and in SUBTEXT that day... BUT I also learned that 'If I want to have richness to those words in the same unconscious way I have when I utter them in Hebrew - I must practice what it's like to actually MEAN them in English.'
From that moment forward, I was set on fully immersing myself in the American culture, mentality, life, language... I worked tirelessly to eliminate my foreign accent and felt great pride when people were shocked to find out I wasn't, in fact, American. I especially enjoyed those moments when I'd catch surprised expressions when I admitted I didn't know who 'Mr. Rogers' was or other well known figures from people's childhoods didn't ring any bells to me. I was a foreigner despite my passing disguise.
As 'passing' as I may have found myself, there were many situations that forced me to face that I was a foreigner no matter what.
Some may not know this, but legally immigrating to the US is no easy task. It takes a lot of dedication to go through the immigration process and I had my share of experiences, believe me. But also 'smaller' things would occur and remind me of what I was:
Say surveys and questionnaires, for instance.
I always found myself clicking the ‘other’ box, with a constant burning question running in my head: "Am I an OTHER? Other than WHO? Other than WHAT?"
I still ask that question. And I still feel like even in a simple survey - I don't belong.
After many years living in the US, fully immersing myself and for the most part loving it dearly - little by little I have awakened to realize I've sacrificed a part of myself in taking on another identity. I LOST something. There was a loss of the person I would have grown to be had I didn't immerse. There was a loss of connection to the identity I once had. There was a loss of time.
In short, this mermaid started walking on two feet and before she knew it - she forgot about the ocean altogether.
But it's never too late to dip in.
Who knows? I may find out I am more than an OTHER.
Maybe I am all of it.
The other and another. And another. And another. And ANOTHER.
In April 2020, while experiencing her first ever global pandemic, Tamar Pelzig pledged to write something every day, even if it's only a word, so she welcomed to the world a daily blog to keep her creative writing wheels rolling.
Header Art: Daniel Landerman