The ultimate WTF question: what am I doing here?
The ultimate answer: I don’t know!
I never intended to stay.
I am not sure I intended to come.
I remember a wish to be a tourist, and work in black.
I remember my plans being taken over by my life.
I remember one thing happening after another.
I remember being too happy to care that it was not all according to plan.
I did not care much about the plan because there had been no plan, that is apart from being an illegal tourist for ever and having fun for ever too.
I did not care because after all I was having the time of my life.
So what if I got a blue passport, a tax-deductible salary, a husband and a kid or two on the way.
I was still having fun. To keep up the appearances I made sure I kept some things well out of reach, like a doctor, a hairdresser, even my marriage.
I never registered here as married, I remained single on my ID, my husband remained a divorcee on his and each time we would bring a new child from Belgium everybody at the immigration offices would ask questions and raise as many eyebrows as possible.
I remember another set of pre-conditions I had set before traveling here as a tourist: work with foreigners, not the locals, travel out of the country at least three times a year.Working with French speaking African countries, all the conditions were more than met.
The years went by, and after all that happiness, tragedy struck.
And then twice.
And in between, thirteen years had passed and I was still here.
I am no longer a tourist.
I am no longer married, although I did end up being registered as such for a split second. The clerk’s eyebrows reached such heights they almost popped the ceiling as she kept asking: but why did you never register your marriage?! I cannot register you as a widow if you are not married first!? I need to write that you are married first! But why did you never register? Why??
Why? Because I fancied remaining free and independent. Because I did not want to belong to anyone, I did not want to be caged, I did not want to be part of a system. Because I am a tourist. Because I need to move around. Because I love the world, I love traveling, I love discovering new cultures and languages.
Why? Because working as a clerk in a governmental office from nine to five never appeared on my list of to-do things.
Why? Because … Why should it matter! Why did it matter.
It no longer was anyway.
Against my will I had recovered the freedom I had never lost in the first place.
Against my wishes, I was free to come and go as I wished… Against my wishes.
Today, I am still here. I don’t quite know why.
I don’t know for how long more. Not for too long.
My feet are starting to twist and itch.
My heart is on its way already. My head a step or two behind, as usual, but on the move.
True, it has become more complicated to move with children.
Not all children like to be tourists and anchor-free. Quite the contrary, I am finding out. Even my own!
So here we are, because the I is no longer ’I’ either. It is ’we’.
We are preparing ourselves for the next step, it may be here, it may not be here, it will not be the same here anyway, it will be another place another time another epoch.
It is another place already.
It is another me.
The only thing that has remained unchanged are all the pre-conditions.