Thoughts on Being an Immigrant

I am an immigrant to this country , its now been 32 years. I have lived here longer, than I have lived anywhere. I have lived in this house longer than any house I have ever lived in. I can't say I ever really planned to be here this long. I am a white ,Anglo, English speaker, but immigrant nonetheless. And there's the rub, I am not seen as foreign until I speak ,then the inevitable, "where are you from ? " comes forth.

Its a subtle thing to experience the feeling of not belonging, to a culture that has become home in many ways. I am an American citizen ,but I also miss my culture, the queues, the weather, the food , the people, the humor, and most importantly the landscape. I don't have the same reference points here , almost everyday something new, I don't know about this culture, comes up in conversation. I am not inside the bubble of the culture, I hover outside of it, and the longer I live here the more I am also outside the culture of my homeland.

I realize that hovering outside of this culture is a gift , most people don't get to experience. Its almost impossible for anyone entrenched as an American to experience this, its all they have ever known. Travel of course really does broaden the mind , but it takes a long time to really understand, how different a culture like the US is from the UK, there nothing quite like living here, to know all the subtleties, this entails. I can see quite clearly my cultural programming. As an artist this is a definite advantage, I seem to be destined to always be the observer on some level. Below I show a piece from the 1980's when I was still a fairly recent immigrant.

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