Waiheke, Aotearoa New Zealand

November 8, 2020

Sidelines.

What a strange week it's been. As you may have heard, the US held its presidential election this week, and more of my time and energy than I'd have preferred has been occupied by a checkerboard map, the slow and steady tick of numbers from cities I've never been to.

It's mixed me up, jumbled my insides. See, I voted in that election. I'm still a US citizen, pay taxes, the whole lot. But I've also been living abroad for years, and I don't ever plan on moving back.

Identity is tricky and sticky and ever-present in moments like these. How much is this my election? How much was New Zealand's? Where the hell am I from anyway?

Home. It's again, home.

If you made me pick just one place, it would still be Paris. Even though I'm not an EU citizen. Even though there are children with better command of the language than me. Home isn't logical. It's a feeling, a knowing. It's in my bones.

As time ticks on and Covid ramps back up for what looks like a tough winter for a lot of the Northern hemisphere, my little bubble here in New Zealand starts to feel even more foreign. This place is great. It's safe, it's full of kind people and common sense, and it's making real progress on important issues in ways that are inspiring.

But it's also on the sidelines.

The world is fighting a disease with a ferocity and collaboration at a greater scale than anything we've ever done as a species. The country I was born in is fighting for its identity, its ability to navigate its history and its place in a deeply connected world. And the world we find ourselves in five years from now, when Covid is a recent memory, will look substantiatively different than the one before it.

But me, here in this little bubble in the corner of the world, I'll have watched it all on the internet.

Safe. But on the sidelines.

And this week especially, I'm not sure what I think about that.

There are folks reading this from all across the world, and I know a number of you have changed countries and identities, too. I'm curious - did you ever feel completely a part of your new home? Or have you always had a foot in each world?

Be well, and have a healthy week,

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I saw all week was coverage of a different election, with plenty of drama. See, it's bigger than penguins this time. Who will win New Zealand's bird of the year? Vote early. Vote often. Vote for the Kārearea. or the Kea. or the Kiwi. 🤣

p.p.s. A number of folks have asked to hear my thoughts on the election. If that's you, they're here.

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