The Other I

July 2, 2010

An independent life

Filed under: Just Stuff,Psychology, Philosophy & Personal Nonsense — theotheri @ 8:27 pm

I was sitting on the plane from London to Boston last week next to a young woman in her early twenties whose henna-decorated hands and vegetarian meal suggested she was flying from India.  I asked her if she was coming or going home.

“Ah,” she said, “that’s the question.”

She said that she’d grown up in India where everything was done for her – her bed made, meals cooked, laundry and cleaning done.  There were gardeners and drivers and cooks and maids.

“But I wanted to do these things for myself,” she said.

So she looked around the world and decided that her best option for living her own independent life was in the United States.  She applied to and was accepted to complete her masters in IT, and then got a job working for a company who has procured her a visa for three years.

And now I don’t know where home is, she said.  She’d been visiting her family for several weeks in India where she grew up, but after about a week she said she was anxious to get back home – and home was the United States.

I know, I said.  Home will never be the same thing again.  Where you grew up will feel less and less where you belong, and where you are will always never quite have the unquestioned familiarity that our first home has.

I thought about this woman as I was flying back to England.  I’d had a wonderful time visiting the place where I grew up.  But I didn’t belong there any more.  But much as I love living in Cambridge, part of what I love is that frisson that comes from a place that is always just a little new, just a little challenging, a little surprising.

And I thought too about her desire to live her own life.  Not to have everything done for her.  She wanted to take charge of her own life – even in the most prosaic things.  When she said she wanted to do things for herself, she started the list with doing her own cooking and cleaning.

What is that drive in some people to live their own lives whose impetus is so strong that they will leave home and even more to another country to find it?

It’s something deep in the human spirit, I think.

Maybe it’s why we even might make it to colonize another planet someday.

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