When I moved to the United States I was 33. I didn’t come here to stay, but life seemed to have different plans for me. First it was a boyfriend, then a job, and slowly it became clear that I had found in this country what eluded me in my own country. After 12 years, here I am: I married my American boyfriend, I found a good job, I sold my Italian house and bought one here. Without even realizing it, I am taking roots in this country. It has been a beautiful and difficult journey.
Leaving your own country as an adult, even in the best of conditions, is disorienting and creates a fracture in our soul. I didn’t understand it at the beginning. I was too excited by the adventure and the discovery of the New World to care about what I was leaving behind. But as time went by, I discovered how my previous life wasn’t letting go of me without a fight. A flavor, a smell, a song, a picture, would bring back a sense of longing for the place and the people I left, and for the culture I grew up in.
Many people are not as lucky as I have been. They come to this country running for their lives and leaving everything behind. They are fleeing from poverty, political or religious persecution, war. They are hoping for a future for themselves and their family.
During the last few weeks, the US Govern has been discussing immigration laws. The political debate on immigration is not easy because each choice has such profound consequences on the life of so many people: the immigrants and their families (where legal and illegal are more fuzzy concepts that we would like), the many Americans who are struggling to find a job at a decent pay, the businesses who benefit from immigrant workers. Even if we ignore the wrong reasons that complicate the political debate (rigid ideologies, approval rates, re-elections, making the lobbyists happy), finding solutions is difficult. How to deal with inequality, within and across political boundaries, is one of the most difficult problems to solve.
Politics cannot be ignored, because they have a powerful impact on our life and our ability to survive and be happy. But here I want to focus on the experience of people who have moved to this country as adults, and their journey to this country. Joy and desperation, the discoveries, the wonder, the fear, the disappointments, the longing…