I sat and stared at Polaroid’s I took of places in the past; Somewhere between the picture of a Malaysian cave’s bright halo light, blooming pink flowers growing wild in Austin, TX and a South African waterfall descending rapidly into a vast nowhere, I came to a revelation. In the gap of time between those snapshots, I found myself making a mental image of a time I spent in a bed. I had laid on my side for most of the night with my body facing a wall. And this thought alone got me thinking of the day I moved to China.
I came alone because I wanted change. I wanted to change my life to something new; always looking for something new. Back then I thought this meant I was open, but when I think about myself, on my side, facing a wall in someone else’s bed, I realize that nothing is open except in your head.
Fake is the real real here. I see people coming in and out of reality through phones in their hands. I see people wearing things that mimic brands. And they make an image for themselves (and others) of how they want it all to work out, of how it all repeats itself over and over and over; that somehow we have control just because we have devises now that say we do when we want them to.
I can’t control how this place makes me feel. How I look different no matter what clothing I wear. That I can’t understand much of what some people say to me. And in the end, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else in the world at this point in time.
To lose the self in foreign lands is sometimes just enough to understand the core of existence, persistence and resistance. As it stands, we stand alone most of the time. We have the perception of connection but even connections have to have space in between them.
Take this space in time, this place of mine, this idea that I could change by changing my way of life. But what has changed in changing? I still think the same most of the time. I still have feelings I keep inside. The real fake is the fake real. And I feel real fake right now. I cannot grow a face to match this place. I cannot grow an accent to match this language. I cannot be anything but myself in this country.
And to face the real fact that I can’t be a fake here, is enough to know that some things really don’t change after all. And maybe that’s the point of it. To fall and fall and fall again to see how getting up feels different every time.
I get stared at so that I know that I am not always right. I eat things I never thought I would so that I know that I’m still an animal inside. And I live here by myself, away from “home”, away from people who look like me, away from an economy, and in a way I can see, who I really am. And what I am, is not to say, that what I’m not is better off, because I and you and we and us, are more alike we than thought.
Michelle Lee Proksell