April 22, 2021

What Is The Real Significance Of ‘Living’ Abroad?

Laura Colucci-Gray

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For people who left their countries, the familiar places where we grew up, comes the endless coming and going, real and metaphorical between who we were and who we have become. We can make assessments on what we have lost or achieved, but the real challenge is to know that it is impossible to go back to who we were or what it was. The real question confronting us is ‘Why’ having left in the first place. This piece engages with the emotional turbulence that has accompanied my transition into an unknown country, where I started my life as a young adult. Childhood memories keep flowing in and out of a present that is both close and foreign; different parts of myself poking through each time, like the ridges of driftwood found on the beach. It is through writing, however, that I come to realise that what I am seeing are neither fragments of myself, nor ‘hard’ truths I feared had to be kept hidden. After many years, I am able to recognise the sculpted outline of the project that was uniquely me; that by taking ‘leave’ – as Nan Shepherd worded – I have been able to ‘live’.