Sunday, December 20, 2015

On Belonging, Or The Lack Of

It's been a month since I posted about leaving New York. A lot of people have reached out to me who read that post, and have told me that it touched them in some way and that they could relate. I even made some people cry with what I wrote! Which kind of stuns me.

I've been telling the friends I've been meeting up with however that I'm doing much better since that I said that I'm leaving. I've accepted my departure and I believe that its the best thing for me at this time. Still, its been really emotional, lots of stuff in my head. I think that I've had enough time to say my goodbyes to friends and to the city, though -

Though I know I'll miss New York. Despite all my hardships here over the years, I feel an attachment and a connection to this place. NY's been good to me but also really difficult. Yet I've grown a lot here; I've spent my twenties here, a massively formative period.

A friend said tonight that I belong to New York, that I'll end up coming back here. I'm letting those words sink in. I have never felt like I belong anywhere. That is due to multiple migrations and also because of my various identities. However, I did feel for a time that NY was a place for a person like me, a weirdo/misfit/confused/artist/etc/etc. Here is where I could blend in or disappear in the crowd, and that is true to some extent. But to say that I belong to a place - especially by someone from this city, is something else. I've always seen myself as a transplant, a gentrifier, as that's what I am no doubt.

What is home, what is belonging? I have always, always, ALWAYS wanted to fit in, wanted to be a part of something, of a clique, of a group, a community. Always. I can't stress that enough. Always been a misfit in some way, always stood out in some way, in whatever room I'm in. Sometimes still I just want to not be noticed and/or blend into the background, and just be seen as part of the something in the room. This is something about my nature, this clinginess, this want, this need, this desire, to be attached to a circle, and yet its something I've rarely fully achieved. I tend to drift in and out or in between, circling around circles, and there's many circles I've left, and some that I've yet to explore further. There were perhaps some spaces I was fully in on for a time, but those spaces either ended or I left.

Sometimes you just gotta accept things about yourself. And so I've learned that there's no point in trying to change how sensitive I am or in denying my want/need to belong to something. Perhaps this all stems from loneliness, from my birth order, etc. But whatever. These things are a part of me and they shape me, no matter how much I dislike it at times.

Like many, I hate the question of "where are you from?". I hate this not necessarily for being Otherized when this happens, though that is annoying no doubt, but because I have so many answers to that question. It's usually some combination of India/Michigan/UK or I mention just one of those places, but end up explaining my migration story anyway because of further probing. The only time I claimed to be from New York, was ironically when I visited the UK last year. When I was in Edinburgh, I couldn't claim to be from London, even though that's my birthplace and accent, because I don't know London these days and don't have much of an attachment to it anymore. To one policeman (it was a friendly convo) I did tell him London, then he asked me about UK politics and I was very much clueless. And so when people asked me where I was from, I told them where I came from, and that was New York. New York, with an English accent. It felt weird to say it, but it felt more accurate. That's the only time though I claimed this city. Probably would've been better to say that I had arrived from New York.

There's a massive thing about who gets to claim New York, who is a native New Yorker and who isn't. I'm certainly not one, and I never will be. If I live here for 10, 20 years, maybe then I can claim to be a New Yorker, though still not a native. And yet, what makes someone a native New Yorker? Someone born here? Someone who came here as a kid? If their parents moved here, were they thought of as New Yorkers at that time? I feel fortunate that lots of my friends here are from NY. I'm not saying that to make me cool or anything; their perspectives have shaped my experiences and perspectives here greatly and I owe a lot to all of them. A lot.

My time here is winding down very, very quickly. Time is speeding up. It feels surreal that it's just a few days left. I keep wondering about how I'm going to feel in MI, trying to see into the future into my mindset. I'm very apprehensive about going back, for various reasons. Hopefully it won't be that difficult and I'm hoping also that missing NY won't be too painful, though I predict that I'll be getting lots of dreams about my time here.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

you can't make me.

addressed to (they): the alphabet soup of surveillance agencies, the racists, the o'reillys and bill mahrs

you want me to be like you? you want me to take my hijab off, go get drunk, mess around? you want me to assimilate, to conform, to what you think all americans/westerners supposedly do? and that doing all that would make me a so-called good muslim in your eyes? because otherwise i'm scary?

nah. i can call myself straight-edge, HXA, but really, i'm just muslim. i'm gonna keep this hijab on, and stay away from the drink, even though i get tempted, just to piss you off. just to not conform. just because you hate it. despite my actual faith going up and down. bring it. fight or flight. i fight, with my words, my art, because i can, and will.