I belong everywhere and nowhere.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2015-10-11 02:07Z by Steven

Like many TCKs [third culture kids] and persons of mixed ancestry, I have searched all my life for “home”. In late 2012 I relocated to the Los Angeles area after more than two decades in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City. L.A.’s a good place for in-between-ers like me. In this sprawling metropolis with no center, a place that’s in a perpetual state of fragmentation, disintegration, and transformation and whose population represents every culture and nation, I can enjoy a sense of internal and external spaciousness. But it’s a restless city and its vast size lends itself to tribalism. As a relative newcomer, it’s been challenging to find a place of belonging. But then I’m reminded that, as an adult TCK who’s moved over 40 times since my birth, I’ve always felt this way, no matter where I’ve lived. I belong everywhere and nowhere.

Mari L’Esperance, “Liminality as Inheritance: On Being Mixed and Third Culture,” Mixed Roots Stories, October 7, 2015. http://mixedrootsstories.com/liminality-as-inheritance-on-being-mixed-and-third-culture/.

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Liminality as Inheritance: On Being Mixed and Third Culture

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2015-10-08 19:17Z by Steven

Liminality as Inheritance: On Being Mixed and Third Culture

Mixed Roots Stories

Mari L’Esperance

The following is adapted from previous posts published at Discover Nikkei and Best American Poetry.

“To be hybrid anticipates the future.”Isamu Noguchi, 1942

Noguchi’s prescient words are manifesting on every level in our time. Just look around you: rigid binaries and categories continue to shift, dissolve, and flow into one another, creating a new “third”. As a woman of mixed heritage I’m compelled by the process that unfolds in this liminal space—a space that isn’t this or that, but is its own realm—a borderland of both/and. It is a space of fluidity and potentiality where all my “selves” are free to be, where I’m beholden to no one culture, camp, or tribe, but can instead move between and among them. It’s an exciting, and destabilizing, time in which to be alive.

The symbolic and psychological meanings of “borderlands”—both internal and external—have been my preoccupation for years. It’s a preoccupation that comes with the territory. I am the daughter of a Japanese mother born before World War II in Tokyo to an upper middle-class family and a French CanadianNew Englander father who grew up during the Great Depression in a working class, bilingual family. My parents raised my brother and me with both cultures in various locations in California, Micronesia, and Japan. This last is why I also consider myself an adult Third Culture Kid—a person who’s been raised in places and cultures other than her parents’ passport country/countries. TCKs internalize aspects of all the cultures in which they’ve been immersed while not having full ownership in any. Consequently, I’m adaptable, curious, restless, and can live pretty much anywhere. My least favorite question is “Where are you from?” because it is impossible to answer. If I were to use a food metaphor to describe my internal experience, Asian hot pot (or nabemono in Japanese) probably comes closest. Although I often felt “other” as a younger person, in midlife I’m finally learning to settle into and appreciate my unique background and have mostly let go of struggling to fit in. I’ve come to learn that I prefer the in-between…

Read the entire article here.


Betwixt and Between: Embracing the Borderlands of My Mixed Heritage

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2013-01-25 02:54Z by Steven

Betwixt and Between: Embracing the Borderlands of My Mixed Heritage

Discover Nikkei

Mari L’Esperance

For weeks I resisted beginning work on this essay. Then, synchronistically, I encountered two pieces at Discover Nikkei that helped me get started. The first was Nancy Matsumoto’s excellent review (December 26, 2012) of Nikkei/Hapa psychologist Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu’s latest book When Half is Whole: Multiethnic Asian American Identities, and the second was a first-person essay (January 3, 2013) by Los Angeles-based food writer, soba maker/purveyor, and Common Grains founder Sonoko Sakai.

In her review, Matsumoto writes that Murphy-Shigematsu’s lifework explores “the complex issue of identity among mixed-race Asians… With subtleness and great empathy he guides us through what he calls ‘the borderlands’ where transnational and multiethnic identities are formed”. Eureka! The symbolism and psychology of “borderlands”—both internal and external—have been my own preoccupation for years, as a poet, writer, and woman of mixed Japanese ancestry.

I was similarly inspired by, and felt a kinship with, Sakai through her account of her experience as a woman born in New York to Japanese parents and raised in several different places in the West and Japan, including my mother’s hometown of Kamakura. Eventually Sakai settled in Los Angeles, where she leads workshops and writes about food as a source of constancy, connection, and physical and spiritual sustenance. Reading these two pieces helped me to integrate the threads of my own history and my struggle over the years to define my identity in the world…

…I am the daughter of a Japanese mother and a New Englander father of French Canadian and Abenaki Missisquoi Indian ancestry. Months after I was born in Kobe in the 1960s, my father moved us to Southern California and then on to Santa Barbara, Guam, and Tokyo. This regular uprooting, combined with my bicultural upbringing, contributed to my feelings of otherness…

Read the entire article here.

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