Yesterday, a new friend my husband recently made called him, almost in tears. He had moved here a few weeks ago, and he was panicking. He had a moment of realization that everything and everyone he had ever known and loved was thousands of miles away; he was in a foreign country where he didn’t know the language or the laws; he was adrift, lost, frightened, homesick. Steve sat down with him in the park and they just talked. He reassured him that homesickness and culture shock were a normal part of making one’s life in a new land and shared with him a description of some of my crying spells from the first few weeks. When they parted ways, he thanked Steve for the reassurance and comfort.
Last night I dreamed I was responsible for a huge tank of fish. I had other things to do and I was gone longer than usual. When I returned, the tank was dry. I was sure my charges were dead. As I approached the tank, I saw the small silver fish neatly arrayed on a plastic plant, stacked on the little branches like dishes in a dish drainer. Each fish was folded in half. I was beside myself with regret and remorse. I came closer and saw that the bottom of the tank was filled with a layer of the fish, all still and dead.
I reached out to take one of the fish off the plant. To my surprise, when I touched it, it flipped the other way and straightened out. It was alive! I picked it up and it wriggled from my fingers, slid into its vacant spot, and folded itself precisely in half. I picked up another and the same thing happened. I touched each fish and they briefly straightened out, then returned to their position. They were going to be okay if I just poured water in the tank.
I poked at the fish on the bottom of the tank and they didn’t move. I picked one up and it fell apart in my hand. The ones who stayed behind were mostly dead, although here and there one gave a weak wriggle.
Maybe I am a fish out of water here. But the water is gone. Time flows on under the bridge. Even the USA I left behind six months ago is not the USA of today. Those of us who chose to leave the water on our own terms have found our places here. We are going to be fine.