“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” John Steinbeck
SHARED JOURNEYS: Last week, my cousin, Joyce, and her family stopped by my home on a road trip from North Carolina. They were in NY for a family celebration and took some time to come out and visit my family in the suburbs. We hung out for quite some time chatting about our extended families, catching up on our kids accomplishments, and reminiscing about our shared journey from our native country to this great country. We talked about the great waterfall, Ezeama, and our memories of clambering up and down its steep steps, as we hauled buckets of fresh spring water home to be stored in giant clay pots for cooking and washing up. We talked about the great market, Orieukwu, and how much it has changed from the old tin roofed stalls to a full scale mini mall.
As we gathered our car keys, headed for the door for a ride to Main Street to pick up lunch, and spend some time at the park near the river, we chatted some more. We reminisced about the family gatherings that brought villagers together to celebrate a birth, death or the wedding of a cherished son/daughter. We got to speak our native language, Igbo, and practice saying names, places, and foods we barely uttered anymore. All of the stories we shared were punctuated with sighs and comments about how much we missed those carefree childhood days. Even though we both know the landscape has changed a lot, our shared journey ties us inextricably to a time long past. Our shared journey keeps us grounded and connected to memories and cultural traditions of our heritage. To top off our time together, we also discussed our journey here and all the shifts, struggles, and successes we’ve had in the USA; it all felt good. Why? Because such conversations can offer a good way to ground ourselves and heal any empty spaces. Yes Steinbeck, after all these years, our journey/trip is propelling us forward … and it is taking/guiding us.
“Life is a journey that must be traveled no matter how bad the roads and accommodations.” Oliver Goldsmith
EMIGRATION: What many people who have emigrated from their place of birth share is a strong connection to family left in the home country, and a litany of lingering, wistful memories of the way things were when they left home. I have a similar experience whenever I hang out and chat with two of my dearest friends – Diahann and Esme. With Diahann, we often reminisce about “our London days,” and all the fun things we did hanging out with friends at parties, shopping on Bond Street, Kings Road and even Oxford Street. We reflect on time spent exploring the many nooks and alleys across that great city and beyond.
Back when we were in London, we were huge fans of Reggae music, punk rock, all things British and, of course, we had tons of stories to share about our boarding school girl days. Food also holds a great connection for us and I’d proudly admit that when we get together, we salivate over our memories of Rhubarb crumble and Bird’s Eye custard … and Digestive biscuits. Food plays an important memory check role by pulling us back to a time when we enjoyed certain types of foods. Even though the treats we discussed were ubiquitous back then, now they are important steps/markers, down memory lane, to a time we shared …
In some special way, I find that my connection to Lucid Gypsy, and many of my other Blog friends also takes me back to the UK, Europe, Africa and other continents or nations further afield. I live vicariously through their journeys, and I’m reminded of the fresh and varied perspectives out there; even some I might have held had I stayed. I mention my dear friend, Lucid Gypsy, because we share both a British and African heritage and it is a bond that I feel across the ocean… We share a parallel journey even though we haven’t yet met in person.
Friends are as companions on a journey, who ought to aid each other to persevere in the road to a happier life. Pythagoras
Over the years, Facebook brought many of those shared journeys into one space but, my longstanding friendships were not created there nor are they spent chit chatting there either. Social Media serves a role that pulls us back together but, the seeds of friendship were planted many, many, years before. Sometimes, Diahann and I wonder what it would have been like if we had stayed back in the UK and never ventured across the pond to start new lives in the USA. Our move to the US was by choice not by force, and it was not necessarily for the oft repeated “better life.” We came to America as young, curious girls seeking both adventure and a more varied education. We connected at Saks Fifth Avenue as Holiday Season employees and our friendship grew; it has stayed strong throughout the years. We share a love for fashion, travel, great food and lots of laughter, and it is from this vantage point that all our shared experiences have been examined, tackled, and completed.
With Esme, it has always been our love for service that drew us together… We met at a Fundraiser for our school district and continued our friendship through our support of a SIDS Foundation she created. Esme grew up in Sicily, Italy, and moved to London at a young age. She met and married her hubby and then moved to the USA when he was recruited for a big job. When we get together, we share our experiences as mothers raising kids in another country, far, far away from our kin. We share the triumphs and struggles of finding a way to integrate our other life experiences into life in the USA and, while we have enjoyed much here, it has not been without challenges.
What many emigrants try to do is build similar connections with folks who have a shared journey and experience, and this helps us all to navigate better, as we create new memories and connections in America. With Esme, our bond has also solidified through our grief over the death of her beloved son and our involvement in a spiritual path and practice. We share an undying love for travel, great cooking and storytelling. It is this shared journey that brings us together over and over again. In a nation of immigrants from disparate backgrounds, our common, shared experience is that we left one country to settle down in yet another. What about you? What shared journeys have you had? What shared journeys do you currently have?
This post was inspired by a WordPress Prompt: Discover Challenge: Shared Journeys – For this week’s Discover challenge, tell a story that shows the value of company. Tell us about one of your shared journeys. It could be an actual journey — a road trip with your friends, your honeymoon, a walk in the woods with your parents. But you might also choose a less physical journey, from adopting an animal with your partner to finishing a collaborative creative project. You’re also welcome to share a contrary perspective and insist on the merits of solitary exploration. I look forward to your posts — which can come in any form, genre, or media you prefer to publish in. To help other participants and new fans find your response in the Reader, tag your post #DiscoverWP. Not sure how to add a tag? Learn more.
Positive Motivation Tip: Find that connection to the journey within. As Matsuo Basho aptly said: “Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”
PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos : Journey via Pixabay and/or via Wikipedia