In her work ‘The Foreigners Home,’ Toni Morrison shares that the profound impact of human relocation, is that it has both ignited and disrupted our understanding of ‘home,’ pushing the boundaries of identity beyond mere citizenship into the realm of foreignness.— Extracted from ‘The Source of Self-Regard.‘
As is my tradition around this time of year, I take to these posts to chronicle my growth and reflect on my migrant journey. The sixth year feels more liberating and less burdensome, a sentiment that will be reflected in the brevity of this post. Earlier in the year, after an arduous journey, I was granted my green card (EB2-NIW), and for the first time since arriving in the country, I felt a genuine sense of belonging.
The true sense of belonging for a foreigner is often realized when we are able to without restriction, work, live, travel, and thrive in the same privileges granted to those born in the country we call home. Departing from our birth country to a new land to begin anew, demands a great deal of courage.
In 2017, I left Nigeria in pursuit of a new place to call home, a dream nurtured for nearly a decade. At the time, Nigeria had started to paint a future that no longer aligned with my aspirations, and recently many young Nigerians have made similar choices- what is collectively referred to as the “Japa wave.” As we leave and become foreigners, the lines get blurred of what home is, which Toni Morrison elaborates on in ‘The Foreigners Home.’
The path to considering a foreign land as home is riddled with challenges – moments of shame, fear, and vulnerability. When I departed my homeland for this new chapter, it was a definitive farewell. I vowed to return only when I could genuinely consider another place my home.
The Foreigner’s Dilemma
Penning this blog post came with a surprising ease, quite unlike the previous years. As I wrote about celebrating my fifth year abroad, there was a prevailing sense of uncertainty. I was deeply embroiled in my permanent residence (PR) application and simultaneously navigating the complexities of moving to a new apartment. A few months later my card came in the Mail and it was surreal, an indescribable feeling, and then a dilemma.
How do I refer to my country of birth? I guess call it my birth country. Most times I find myself saying “I am originally from…” and urn nlike those who hold onto every memory, I choose to remember Nigeria for its cuisine and its people, rather than the nation itself. It is no longer home for me!
I am about to be one of those “back to the motherland” kind of people (inserts laughter). In all seriousness detaching from Nigeria became an essential step for my personal growth, a prerequisite to embracing the challenges of wanting to call America home. Throughout these 6-years, I have carried on as if I had no fallback option if things went awry.
The Foreigners Home
At the heart of today’s post lies a simple truth: I now have a new home. The mere articulation of this fact feels liberating. The anticipation during the green card application process had me on edge; it was one of the most anxious phases of my journey.
Acquiring a green card as a foreigner was the validation I sought to unequivocally label this place as home. The aftermath brings a sense of ease and audacity- all the trials and tribulations of the past five years now seem utterly worthwhile. As I commemorate another year abroad, I recognize the immense fortune I possess to be in this position – a job, an apartment leased under my name, and a growing community to rely on.
In celebration, I visited my favorite tea place, Lady Camellia at Alexandria, VA. to have high tea. It is my favorite relaxation spot with great scones and tea choices, and it is something that have recently brought me joy. Summoning the words for this post required considerable mental fortitude. It strikes me that there is so much language to describe adversity, while tranquility carries fewer words.
A couple of months back, I filmed a YouTube video intended to accompany this post. Yesterday, I filmed another take, and it was only after the third attempt today do I feel like I have a video worth sharing to the public eye.
If you enjoyed this writing, share and comment below your thoughts. Till later.