I recently taught the work of Bharati Mukherjee, an immigrant from India who writes that many immigrants seeking refuge upon American soil describe their arrival as experiencing a loss. They feel that in coming here they have abandoned their family, home, culture, language, and heritage. Having exchanged all that had been familiar and familial to them for the foreign ways of American liberties, which challenge most cultural ideologies outside of the United States, most of them resent our freedoms, and although they use the resources our country offers them, they refuse to adapt to or adopt our ways.
Mukherjeet’s writing stands out to me in terms of the immigrant experience and all the love she has for her new country. She chose to fuse her Indian culture with the American culture that she voluntarily adopted and became part of. She believes in cultural fusion and creating a new homeland within the United States in which the two cultures of the individual, in her case, Indian and American, can coexist and thrive, redefining the possessor of these two cultures and the cultures themselves.
Like her, I perceived coming to America as a gain. I still recall the day I stood before a judge in a courtroom along with so many other immigrants and pledged my allegiance to my new country: a country that welcomed me with open arms and taught me about the liberties and potential prospects I am so proud to possess and take advantage of.
In the same vein, I am creating a new homeland in which my Greek heritage and my adopted American culture can exist, intermingled and united, fused within the two disparate identities that make me whole and define me. And after living in New York for twenty-eight years, Joe and I have established yet another homeland within the wooded plains of North Carolina in which my Greek, Irish, and Italian children can grow up with security and love.
I write this, thirty-nine-years old, while sitting on my porch and listening to the chirpings of the countless birds nestled in the branches above and around me, my daughter and son running along the creek in our back yard in search of pinching crayfish, and I know that I have arrived: I am finally home, at home with myself. And I am content in the knowledge that home is not something someone can give you, but something that you give yourself: a homeland initiated by need, but shaped out of unconditional love and acceptance.
It’s my kind of home, my kind of family, and it’s what I have been blindly searching for since I left Greece so many years ago, parting from everything and everyone that I had known and loved.
Copyright© 2010 by Marina DelVecchio. All Rights Reserved.