Saturday, October 23, 2010

Transplant Connections 移居

Mr. M (my big brother) moved here from Canada recently, after having lived there for ~10 years.  Transplanting is never easy, but Mr M moved from an oil rich tax surplus state, established job, mansion like home, loving social circles, extraordinarily supportive church and friends, into California real estate, the economic recession, postage stamp back yard, and no friends whatsoever.  To say he has had a few issues, is putting the matter mildly.

My chiropractor gave his medical analysis:

"well, they can't be unhappy about the weather.  So they must be unhappy about the people".

I have a chiropractor with some Freudian insights you see. He also happened to be from the exact same town as Mr M.   We high five over this news and he continued his analysis.

"Before certain age, young kids donot play with each other, but they play along side of each other.  They don't yet know how to interact.   Back home, we have almost nothing to do in the entire winter months, so we called each other up and interacted.  But here, people call each other to go surfing, play basketball, baseball, hiking or what have you.   They are playing alongside of each other, but there is no interactions."

 I opened my mouth immediately wanting to object, but thinking back to the first few years (yes years!) when I arrived in Southern California, I couldn't help but nod.

I was a "loner" for the first time in my life.  I came from China where like it or not, hoards of people are literally pressed against your ribs almost all times, it was difficult not to make a few friends here and there who truly knew and "interacted" with you to the depth of your lives.   In my college dorm room, 8 girls shared a single desk, we have our own assigned drawers, but we went to lunches, the library, jogging, classes, dances, outings, and sometimes even bathrooms together. 

Southern California live up to its reputation of beauty in many regards.  But it had taken me years to rebuild a network of friends who truly mattered.  I've made it in a way.  However M's words struck me: "you have become one of them."   On the one hand, I now have friends who I can call up for better or for worse, who will analyze my worries and hand over all their fears and anxieties.   On the other hand,  I too have become so involved in my own sunny but busy life and established circles, that I'd forgotten the loneliness and helplessness that come with being fresh transplants.  I too have simply "gone surfing" without connecting with someone beyond the size of the waves.  Though I do care, I am not sure of what exactly to do to step out of my precious circle. 

But perhaps there is no circle in the end, but a simple barrier of fear and trepidation that separates people (not just transplants or locals) from instant connections that last a lifetime.   Looking both deeply within and beyond, with the help of time, space, and patience,  I hope this barrier will melt like the California coastal hills, into sand and dust and become part of the lasting landscape which we hold dear, forever.

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