Confessions of a bad immigrant
I think nobody will dispute it that, if you want to immigrate to another country, you should make an effort to be considerate of the local culture and sensibilities. It's a bit like a relationship: know what you're getting into before committing, be willing to respect their limits.
"Consideration" is such a slippery notion tho. I've been told to not gay kiss or poly kiss because it made people uncomfortable, it's a family environment, think of their feelings. I've seen Japanese homosexual ppl say they had to marry for procreation, for to do otherwise would be a tremendous lack of consideration to their parents, to whose tirelessl hard work they owe their bodies. I've been told not to wear makeup to work, because I had to be professional and respect German cultural norms. By a non-German. No German ever seemed bothered by early transition me wearing concealer, but somehow "being considerate of the local culture" seems to translate so easily to "don't make me uncomfortable by flaunting queerness".
In some countries, everyday cooking is full of spices, with a rich, appetising scent. When they immigrate, some locals will complain of that terrible greasy smell that gets everywhere. Maybe they'll refuse rent to ppl from those countries. In the country of origin the smell get everywhere too, but there it was just a fact of life, nobody paid any mind, nobody blamed their neighbours for it. In the host country, it's inconsiderate.
I imagine what it feels to those immigrants. Either resign yourself to eating what must feel like the most boring, cardboard nothing food every meal, day at day. Or fail to prove that you deserve to live in the rich country. Taint the reputation of all your countrypeople. Fail to show that you assimilated, get booted right back into whatever terrible conditions you were fleeing from. ("If it's so terrible there you can get by without the spices". Yes you can. But should you have to choose?)
I'm being roundabout, even here, afraid of being one of the bad ones. I'm lying, I don't have to imagine how they feel, I know. You _will_ be assimilated. When the choice is deportation or assimilation, well, resistance is futile.
But what really gets to me, what really gets to me, is not being allowed to express sadness about it. The taboo on criticising host country. "If you complain so much why do you want to live here."
I want to live here, and I want to complain so much, complain about things that make me sad about living here. Germany will be fine. I'm not going to change anything, I don't hold any power in our relationship, I have to be a model citizen or else. But I will grant myself the right to vent to the void how I really feel.
It's past 1am and I am crying, a lot. I'm crying about things that most Germans won't empathise with, things they'd frown upon on their neighbours. Things related to overwhelmingly negative opinions about third-world, non-EU immigrants in polls, looming under outwardly liberal attitudes and a generally respectful treatment. (Usually Most of the time.)
Hell, I want to cry about things that many Brazilians will see as our flaws and not empathise with, at least the upper classes, at least those who haven't spent a few years in the cold lands. I look at my poor, dirty, violent country, and I miss not a curated reel of the best parts, I miss the people, with all their very real issues.
I miss not being able to sleep at 2am, every week, because middle-aged ppl are singing painful love ballads on booze and an acoustic guitar in the specialty bar in front of my rented room. I'm not being facetious, I really miss it. Having my healthy sleep patterns disturbed by them made me smile. They were happy. They were _making happiness_ I had to work the next day, I woke worse, work was worse, fuck work, work doesn't matter, this is music, love, happiness, this matters. They understood that.
Music and love and happiness is holy, damn you all.
I miss not being able to sleep at 2am because my neighbours are having a loud party. I miss the knowledge that if I knocked on the door with a smile I'd be taken right in, a perfect stranger, even if I was too shy and dysphoric to act on that knowledge it comforted me.
I miss not being able to sleep at 2am because of the magnificent ppl coming down from the hills, the favelas, blasting downright pornographic earworms right to the face of polite middle-class society, hacked DIY sound systems shaking the security walls with maxxed-out bass. They are so right, polite middle class society is a grinding wheel running on blood, it more than deserves being blasted at 2am with cocks buried to the balls and dripping, all-consuming hungry pussies.
I curse this silence. I miss not being able to sleep at 2am because it's Carnaval and everybody is outside dancing and drinking and fucking one another for the pure, innocent shining reason of a body wanting another body.
And yes, I confess, I miss singing at 2am.
Confessions of a bad immigrant
The loneliness of this dead night gives me a perverse impulse to make Germans shiver:
I miss routinely hugging and kissing the cheek of every stranger I meet.
I miss touch being a routine thing not just among lovers.
I miss perfect strangers initiating conversations about what I'm reading, about my T-shirt, about the news or some football game I don't even care. I miss pretending I know the first thing about football, just to humour these strangers.
I miss perfect strangers telling me out of the blue, oh weren't you with a baby at shopping mall such-and-such last Saturday? Her dress was so cute.
I miss perfect strangers sensing sadness and telling me "have a beautiful day, a beautiful day".
I miss what would be like to travel in these 4-set train cabins where everybody face one another, if they were Brazilians, even thought we don't have trains like this and I never did that, but I miss what it would be like.
I miss, when I came back from my first trip to Japan, and I had to take two planes, and the first plane was full of Japanese people going somewhere, and the second full of Brazilians returning home, how much noisier was that second plane, its electricity, how full of life.
My poor country that so crushes its own people, the last slavers' colony to abolish it but it never did really, how early do we learn our first and greatest lesson, that life is made of suckers and cheaters and if you want to survive you better be the latter. We were calling ourselves a shithole centuries before that guy was even born. How terrified I am of ever being forced to return there, how violent it all makes us, to what extent we kill one another.
You can complain that we're noisy, cheating, dirty bastards with no respect for rules and order. That our country is a terrible, scary place full with death. And we'll be right there with you, bashing ourselves for the same reasons. But by the gods, none of you gringos will ever be able to tell us that we don't _live_.
I miss the manauara girl who approached me at the bus stop and in a matter of minutes was taking the bus with me to my room, because she liked how I did my nails, because she was attracted to me and it was mid-afternoon and why not? I never saw her again. I don't remember her name. I love her deeply.
I miss easy, zero-expectation hookups. Looking at a boy, smiling at one another, making out without saying a word.
I miss like three dozen sexual encounters of all kinds in every dark corner, and some not-so-dark corner, of that university. Lying down on grass with a stranger, with the peripheral awareness that other people were lying down together close by, in their own patches of grass.
I miss the college girl who was bored in classics class and out of the blue gave me a note that she thought my feet were pretty, and we hooked up for a couple weeks. I miss things like this being things that happen.
I miss "first-name basis" not being a thing, being the only way it is. I miss the way we took the T-V distinction from our colonizers (like German Sie/du) and happy crushed it under our uncaring feet, the way we put the "2nd" verb inflection on the "3rd" pronoun and use that rule-breaking combo for everything.
I miss everybody, everybody, people on streets, food vendors, teachers, friends of friends of friends, treating me with that kind of easy intimacy. The word you'll hear from Brazilian immigrants, again and again, the reason some of them give to go back despite everything, is "warmth". What Europeans, Americans, Japanese feel to be consideration, respect, goodwill, I feel as coldness. And Goddess, do I miss warmth.
Elilla’s personal server.