Four Years an Immigrant

I was pretty shocked to realise our four-year immigration anniversary came and went on the 25th of August. I was feverish with writing the final chapter or two of A Trial of Sparks & Kindling, so I didn’t even realise the anniversary had passed until a few days later.

Four years an immigrant.

In the past four years, two of which we spent in Germany and two in Canada, we’ve learned so much about ourselves.

We’re more independent than we’ve ever been.

Living so far from your support network will do that to you. We used to live in my in-laws’ backyard, 300m from the house I grew up in, surrounded by nearby family and friends. If we had a problem, we could literally have 30 people there in 5 minutes flat.

Then we moved halfway around the world. Each time we built up a new support network, something happened to nullify said network (AKA we moved).

Point is, we’ve had to learn to fend for ourselves. That’s not as bad as it sounds–it helped me and Jan grow in ways we didn’t know we were capable of growing. We’re much more hands-on than we used to be, not as afraid as we used to be. No, maybe that’s wrong.

We still get terrified, but we don’t cower behind our support network anymore. We work through the fear and get shit done.

Having said all of that, I’m really grateful to everyone who’s been supporting us from afar. We love you all.

We’ve met amazing people and experienced incredible things.

From relics left behind by ancient civilizations to modern glass-and-steel buildings, we’ve been fortunate enough to experience them. Kayla is better travelled than either of her parents were until we’d reached our mid-twenties.

These wonderful experiences have enriched our lives and have inspired so many artworks and scenes in my books.

More than anything else though, the places we’ve lived have granted us a different outlook on the world. Because we’ve befriended so many people from all over the world, we have a better understanding of their various viewpoints and the histories that brought on their opinions and ideals.

I think this has granted us a deeper level of empathy than we’d ever have developed if we’d just remained in the same place forever. Basically, we’ve learned that nothing is black and white, nothing is set in stone, and everything looks different from the other person’s perspective.

We’ve learned that our stuff doesn’t define us.

We Marie Kondo-ed our life before it was a thing. In fact, we’ve had to give up a lot of stuff twice, including stuff that meant a lot to us.

Yes, some of the most sentimental stuff came along to Canada, and we still have some stuff to sort through in SA.

What I mean is that our identity isn’t measured in what we own. We’ve learned to distance ourselves from things, to find our worth in how we love, how we connect with others, how we impact the world around us.

I am hoarding books again now, but make no mistake, if I ever have to up and leave again, it won’t be such a big thing to donate those books and go on. Once upon a time, I cried when I had to do that. 🙂 Growth, eh?

We’ve learned that home is where we are together.

I never pictured home as anything other than a place, but I’ve learned that I was wrong. In fact, I’ve written about this concept in the past. Home isn’t a place, it’s in the people we return to.

In this case, home is where Jan and Kayla and I are together. No matter where we might physically find ourselves. That’s a pretty important lesson to learn for an immigrant, especially one who has immigrated multiple times.

Just like with stuff, we have this tendency to define ourselves based on where we’re from. When we learn that the where has little to do with who we are, it’s easier to figure out who we are.

Anyway, that’s all I can think of for now. Maybe I’ll have a more in-depth post for you next year. 🙂

Have a good one.



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A Study of Ash & Smoke
A Trial of Sparks & Kindling


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