But while I was abroad I felt the need to find out who I was and where my soul was. I chose to be a Haitian woman. I couldn’t see myself being forever a nigger in the United States, an immigrant in Canada, or a stranger in Europe. I felt the need to be a part of something. This couldn’t be the black cause in the United States or the immigration cause in Canada. It could only be the cause of the Haitian people. Thus, I decided to return to Haiti.
Myriam Merlet, The More People Dream
I talked to a friend the other night, far from his New Mexico home in Hong Kong, where he’s decided to stay for another year. “I’m quickly becoming a refugee from everything,” he said. “In a way, it’s a nice feeling.”
There is no comparing self-imposed exile, or self-controlled banishment, from the kind of displacement people affected by war, economic collapse, or natural disaster experience. They are on different planes, different planets. I am a different sort of migrant from my parents, me with my fancy degrees, languages, bank cards. But when you are removed, for whatever reason, your relationship with yourself, your past and your future changes. Plucked from a space where you don’t have to second-guess such things, second-guessing becomes everything. It’s in your air.
“I chose,” writes Myriam Merlet, “to be a Haitian woman.” She sought and found her soul in her native Haiti, where she passed decades later in that terrible January quake along with so many others. I am saddened to know that, were it not for that disaster and her death, I might not have found her words. Sadder still that there will be no more words.
I’ve reached the conclusion that one should just proceed, and to hell with the others. This means that I won’t play the game. It’s hard and frustrating because you find yourself alone. At times you question your sanity, your ability to function while being so different from others.