Opinion Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.
Each boarding pass contains more than abbreviated airports A to B
More stories formed and remembered
In the in-between
The in-between, that is home
Will every destination be a pitstop in this lifetime?
And how is that wrong?
Ah, springtime. A time of possibility and newness.
Even though we face great odds in our world today, many of us persevere in finding a strong sense of community and connection amid global anxiety. I believe the search for connection is always a journey worthwhile, but it’s hard not to think about the ways in which capitalism and imperialism have commodified love and even the idea of romance. Oppression did not leave love (or the ideas around it) untouched. With that, how do I remain soft and strong and not let cynicism dissolve my hope of having loving relationships?
As a single person for quite some time, I have befriended the patience and also the agony which grew from the tumultuous milieu of dating. In it, I have been on both sides of love letters unsent, affections unreturned, and emotional needs unmet. Dating as an adult is complex, but dating as a child of the diaspora adds a different dimension.
Diasporic communities are considered to be “people [who] settled far from their ancestral homelands.” This population includes immigrant and refugee communities, and those who are descendants of them. These stories and journeys of migration have been coasting from a wide array of circumstances—some voluntary, and others systemically enforced. Whatever the geopolitical condition or motivation, there exists an experience of severance—a separation from one’s roots and motherland.
As a migrant, I was sensitive to this hierarchy of relationships, because I had to be.
As a child of the diaspora, I never lived in one city for more than four years. I spent the majority of my life in constant geographical movement due to immigration policies, survival for myself and my family, and, most prominently, the constant search for what home means to me.
So it’s fitting that my desire for intimacy is always tied to a sense of home. Literally. While dating, I’ve found that people’s needs for stability and consistency are needs I cannot always accommodate. But can anyone? My conditions make this reality about human relationships more visible—a reality that challenges the norms around love, maintained by Disney and rom-coms: No one can promise a life of guarantees, and neither can one person fulfill all emotional desires and needs.
Many of us have bought into the patriarchal and capitalist ideas of intimacy as a hierarchy, where marital and dating relationships—even nuclear family—are at the top of this societally imposed pyramid, while friendships, extended family, neighbors, and acquaintances reside at the bottom. To echo an earlier prompt: Patriarchy and capitalism did not leave love (or the ideas around it) untouched by way of fabricating top-down taxonomies.
As a migrant, I was sensitive to this hierarchy of relationships, because I had to be. I had to understand it enough to work around it, because I was on the move all the time. It was not easy for someone like me to maintain connections. With that, I had to be sharp and strategic, with active brain muscles, frequently calculating time zone differences, working around language and cultural barriers, and anxiously ruminating: Will this relationship last? Will they stay? Will I stay? Will I ever find a sense of belonging and home? How do I keep my hope from dissolving?
Some say the sense of home does not always depend on a physical location. I like this sentiment—but I’d add that a sense of home is felt and found beyond a singular entity or experience.
In her essay on narratives of migrancy, Sara Ahmed wrote, “Home is here, not a particular place that one simply inhabits, but more than one place: there are too many homes to allow a place to secure the roots or routes of one’s destination.”
Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.—Martín Prechtel
I often wonder if diasporic peoples resonate with this high capacity of finding love in a multitude of people, places, and experiences. I do not solely mean nonmonogamous relationships—although that can most certainly be a part of it—but finding intimacy in many places outside the phenomena of sex and romance.
For instance, I often refer to my closest friends as my “platonic lovers.” I have considered my most favorite books my literary companions, through which I share an indirect kinship with the authors. I have relished in an adventurous aspect of intimacy found in cities and larger communities that have contributed to my formation as a person.
Could it be that we, as diasporic communities, have an expanded ability to find romance out of the mundane or the day to day? Could it be that our ability to find home in many places comes from a loss of it? That we miss it so much, we would have to find it in everyone and everything around us? As Martín Prechtel writes, “Grief expressed out loud for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is, in itself, the greatest praise we could ever give them. … Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.”
Gabes Torres is a psychotherapist, organizer, and artist. Her work focuses on anti-colonial approaches and practices within the mental health field. She also focuses on abolitionist organizing on a global scale. You can find most of her work on her official website, www.gabestorres.com, and social media platforms, including Instagram.