Provocation #2 March 1st 2023 – Come Home Journal #9
A provocation is a challenging question, our second was:
What is the cost of belonging?
Upstairs at the Regent Cinema on a cool spring day women came and sat with me to talk about belonging. After a short screening of visual elements, messy and ungathered. It’s not usual to see such an experimental film in a commercial cinema. This was unique and the audience unsure of what they had seen, unsure of what they felt, unsure of knowing what they had to contribute.
We talked about belonging as a transaction. The sacrifices we make to belong. The families we create, the cultures we protect and the silences we keep. The acceptance we both allow and expect.
These are things we don’t often get the chance to speak about. One woman wrote to me later about her understanding of belonging.
I’m adopted. Of course I’ve thought about where I belong my whole life.
I’ve always known my biological family; the two mums were besties at Art School in the 1950s. It has always been amazing to me to be ‘like’ people that I didn’t grow up with. Similar gestures, humour, lack of cooking skills, even the same annoyances about spelling and punctuation.
I love what it feels like to look like these people. Same nostrils, thick hair, eyes, cheekbones, and then when people in passing mention that they see the family resemblances. That feels like I belong.
But then there’s the missing emotional connection from these same ones and seeming lack of warmth to want to be part of something bigger. Not so much belonging in that.
I did meet an 80 something year old aunty for the first time in Geeveston, Tasmania about 7 or 8 years ago. I really felt like we knew each other almost immediately.
She felt most like me out of all of them. But you know, we aren’t really going to hang out much.
Nature vs nurture is an endlessly interesting subject to me.
My biological dad is from The Netherlands, I’ve never been there. He had some amazing stories of his growing up, the war and antics of being an identical twin. I’m sad to not have more information about that.
I still have the surname amongst the four I was given.
It makes me feel a bit special to have all the names stashed in there though, the connection is important to me, I’ll always keep that. All of my siblings have different surnames for that reason; people can’t spell it or say it. They chose a married name or the maternal surname. One changed it back again out of guilt.
I have absolute certainty that ultimately my final place of belonging is in the Gisborne Cemetery though. I’ve never lived there either, but both sets of mums and dads have had strong connections to Gisborne. My favourite uncle was there leaving a giant legacy that a cousin continues.
The two families, including some of my siblings are all buried there…not sure which ones to be settled with, I think the adoptive ones, they seem most familiar.