Signs that I’m in no-man’s land
The banners are coming out: the UK is gearing up for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and then the Olympics and the Paralympics. We are finally having summer weather as well so everyone is coming out of hibernation; the festive spirit is spreading like wildfire (in these otherwise sodden lands). As I was driving through a street newly decorated with union jacks it hit me: I am still a foreigner here. I have been here 11 years, and I am still a guest.
I stand by and watch the flags go up and feel only curiosity: fancy that, the natives are putting union jacks up everywhere. They’re really going to town on this.
When the olympic torch was lit and sent on its way around the country I watched with detached amazement (it was on the TV news or I would have missed it). How can people get so effusively emotional about something as mundane as a flame being lit? Husband says I am being mean: of course it’s a big deal! I don’t get it. So he asked whether I would feel different if the Olympics were in Belgium. Uhmmm… ponder that one … maybe, a little bit. Not sure, actually. Would I deck the halls to celebrate King Albert’s umpteenth jubilee? Uhmmm… probably not. The Belgian royal family just doesn’t do pomp and circumstance anything like the British – they’re awesome. And when I was last in Belgium I felt like a visitor there at times.
People at work are plotting where to position themselves when the olympic torch is passing by the office in 6 weeks time. All I can think of is: what day, remind me? Oooh, must arrange to work from home that day. Too crowded, I’ll get stuck in traffic.
My sense of identity is blurring. I may as well accept it and play the foreign / visitor card to suit me. Put on the vacant apologetic smile, and I can probably get away with whatever I like under the guise of “that’s what we do where I come from / where I live”. That worked a dream when I lived in Denmark many moons ago. My friends and colleagues would nod understandingly, and not comment even when they thought what I did was really weird. If I play my cards well I may be able to duck under the radar this summer, get some downtime while everyone is distracted. I’ll make a plan.