26 June 2020
Dear child of an immigrant,
I think this is probably the most important letter to write and that is maybe why I hadn’t written it yet. I started it but it seemed stupid so I stopped. Maybe the child of the immigrant part of me is the one that is most in focus and probably the reason I am doing this project.
I’m sorry it’s typed and not hand written. It takes long to hand write, it feels more personal when you can see my handwriting but I know I am late with this one and maybe you have been back and forward to Storgata looking for the letter which is for you. I apologise.
What would I like to talk to you about? About everything. Not to be in the right place but not knowing where the right place could be. I like it where I live at the moment it is very pretty, it’s a small town/large village in UK terms, about 4500 people. There are 4 or 5 other Black people who live in the village. Maybe there are many other children of immigrants and immigrants here but they are not necessarily visible.
Yesterday my Dad went wandering up our street and someone started talking to him because they thought it was the other Black elderly man in town, who they said was there good friend. Oh.
It’s not that I want to talk to you about maybe I want to talk to you about land and landscape. Do you feel at home in your present landscape? Maybe at home isn’t even the word or the right concept. Do you feel like you can belong there? I have never really worried about belonging I just knew that I didn’t and that was okay not to belong somewhere, maybe it gave me a sense of freedom, I had no ties to a place only the relationships I had made.
It could be that now we are all in quarantine (sort of) in England we feel that the place where we are really is holding us, the people and the language and the landscape is all that we have now. I have recently moved here, 4 years almost, so I don’t know a lot of people. 1. Because I often work away or have been staying at my Dad’s house, until I moved him with us earlier this year and 2. Because I already have wonderful friends who I have known for 30 years and the depth of those relationships are precious and good and I feel like I don’t need any more acquaintances.
The landscape here is beautiful. It is on the edge of the moors, big empty spaces, hardly any trees because it is high and the trees were used ages ago, maybe for houses or the canal. And then there are little river walks and winding roads and beautiful hedgerows and reservoirs. It’s hilly too, we live at the beginning of the valley. But it’s not my landscape and I am not rooted here. Being rooted or not being rooted has never bothered me before but it does now. I feel very much a visitor. The village is like that anyway, you can live here for 60 years or more and you’ll still be a comer-inner even if you are from the next village in the valley.
I never worried about that in Manchester, because lots of people are from somewhere else and Manchester is used to absorbing new people. Not always happily but the city is used to it. I don’t even know if I want to belong here, if this is a place I want to claim. I think I would just like to have some ease around being here. So that not every day I step out of my house and brace myself for some level of discomfort. Ease.
Do you have ease where you are? Does anybody else around you speak your language? Do you look out of your window and feel like the place that you see is home? How do you get to make yourself feel like you belong? Do you have to ditch all the things from your migrant home or can you bring it all to where you are now? Do you want to?
Dear child of immigrant, you really are very dear to me. I wish you all the best, I hope you can find comfort without having to push yourself into strange shapes in order to fit.
I hope we get to meet next year when hopefully I will be in Harstad again,
All the best,
Sonia x xxxxx x