In about a month I will have lived most of my life as an expatriate. I suppose I will see out my days in this frame of mind, even if I returned to the land of my birth tommorow. It has changed more than any other country in Europe while I was away, grown up and prospered in a wonderful way. However, I’ve grown to like the perspective of the exile, so finely described by Hugo St. Victor in the 12th Century
The person who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign place. The tender soul has fixed his love on one spot in the world; the strong person has extended his love to all places; the perfect man extinguished his.
A fellow graduate student in Ohio once told me that Cleveland was “A great place to be from — because it means you’re not there!” I understood voting with one’s feet perfectly. But did he ever experience hospitality offered in the ends of the earth on the strength of his coming from Cleveland? I was luckier than I knew. Age, travel and the kinship of exiles — peripatetics and misfits, not compatriots — has mellowed and enriched me; I will be forever drawn to the outsider’s perspective.
I was reminded of all this on reading Tom Wolfe’s “You can never go home again” quoted here on the just discovered the Fistful of Euros syndicated blog on the nascent European sphere, found via Petite Anglaise’s blog.
This post must surely be one of the most seductive in the sphere, not just in terms of imagery. The satin jimjams blend of tactile luxury, erotic promise and innocent familiarity is a hard thought to forget, not that I have tried. It intruded at inappropriate moments when I was trying to study recently, making me chuckle. The very words are now jimjamed in my cortex. It’s no use Petite pointing out that it’s not her in the picture. Not for nothing as she been called a little foxtress. With friends like Little Red Boat who can be amusing, it’s clear these jimjam awards aren’t just handed out for being cute. Poor petite has paid her dues, and that photo didn’t hurt the empathy vote.
Friends of the Philippines may enjoy this recent post from Little Red Boat
Eventually, finding our way back onto Madison Avenue, we waited as the parade of filipino-Americans paraded away down the street. The National Association of Filipino-American Federations, the National Federation of American-Filipino Associations, the Filipino-American National Federated Association of Associated Federations, each came past, each with their own float and their own crowned Miss Filipino-American, waving and a happily glazed fashion at the group of four spectators who stood next to us shouting WOOO at every single one.
Interesting: the earliest recording I have of my son, made when testing a pocket tape recorder when he was two years old, is of him saying repeatedly and with growing insistence
Dad, could you go WOOO!
I was being invited to synchronise this utterance with the travel of a coin down a plastic cash register chute and which I needed to appreciate, again, with gusto.
Dr.Johnson said that a man who tires of London tires of life. I say a man tires of life when he can no longer say WOOO, wherever he is.
I’m with the Filipinos and the admirers of pulchritude in silky pink PJs (Saint Jimjam) throughout the nascent wooosphere. The rest of the world is a great place to be from.