Friday, 24 June 2016

Just in case you were wondering how it feels



When I come back from France, when the train emerges from the tunnel, sad as I am to leave my family behind, do you know what the overwhelming feeling is?

Relief.

Because I am home.

As a foreigner, you always have to try a little bit harder, being that little bit more British than the Brits, because if YOU don't know about the War of the Roses, the colours of the various tube lines or the county Milton Keynes is in, it's because you are Other. Never mind that born and bred Englishmen/women do not know these things (I have spent a lot of time explaining the War of the Roses to English people, actually). When YOU don't know, YOU emphasise your outsider status.

Immigrants know that. Most of the time they accept that. We do have to work that little bit harder to build our homes, but we get to build one, and most of the time we are simply grateful for that. And we feel we have a right to be where we are, because that is where our home is, where our community is, where the familiar streets and well-known sights are. The smells, the sounds, the rain. All of this spells home, all of this we love because it is home.

This street outside my house is not just any street, it's the one down which Jude took his first hesitant steps behind his wheelie dog. This bus is not any bus, it's the one Gabriel rode four hours after he was born. All of it precious, all of it irreplaceable. 

But today we were reminded that working harder was not the only thing required of us in order to be able to build our homes. Today we were shown that nothing we can do is ever enough.

Now my neighbours denied my right to call my home my own. They chose to pull my house down, they knew it could damage theirs to do so, because theirs were leaning on mine, but they chose potentially dramatic instability for the privilege of evicting me.

Of course this is an imperfect simile, of course there were good reasons to want to leave, but not a single one of these good reasons was ever used during the campaign. Like it or not, this was a campaign of hate. People were not making an informed decision over complex policies, because that is not the arguments they used to debate. The arguments they used were all about getting rid of migrants, European or otherwise.

Getting rid of ME. Pulling MY house down.

More than half the population wanted to push me away so badly, they were willing to gamble economic stability.

But this was my home.

7 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry. I just got up and hadn't heard the results yet. I'm so very sorry.

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    1. Thank you. It is quite a scary uncertain time!

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    2. For us, over here, too.

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  2. Ma chère Isabelle, ma première pensée à été pour toi et ta famille à la découverte des résultats ce matin :( quelle tristesse en effet que de penser que "nothing you can do is ever enough"... J'espère malgré tout que l'Angleterre restera en partie ta maison. Bises à tous les 4.

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    1. Merci Armelle! C'est assez dur en ce moment, j'ai vécu en Angleterre trop longtemps pour que la France soit vraiment ma maison. On sait jamais, on déménagera peut-etre en Écosse! Plein de bisous

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  3. Isabelle, I've been thinking of you a lot since hearing about the referendum decision, and you and your family continue to be in my prayers!

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    1. Thank you so much Anne Marie, I really appreciate it! (and your patience with me! Congratulations!!!)

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