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The Trials of a Self (Sort of) -Imposed Exile
Brian J Wood
I have wandered the world quite a bit and suddenly I have no country to call home

Did you ever wondering how it would be to just wander the earth with no real home or country? Images are conjured in my head of reclusive wanderers with their flowing capes and walking sticks. The famous Japanese haiku poet Bassho comes to mind. Even though he did not wander outside of Japan, he journeyed pretty far in his own country by just walking. How romantic is would be to be free of those things that tie one down. I do not necessarily mean family or other loved ones, but bureaucratic things like citizenship and nationality.

I have wandered the world quite a bit and suddenly I have no country to call home. I am a citizen of the US but basically in name only. My passport is even a point of contention because a mistake in the State Department put me on some blacklist (without any complete explanation) refusing to renew my passport for the full validity of ten years. I do not care that I am a US citizen or some other citizen. Actually I’d rather not be a US citizen and am trying very hard to get rid of it – but in order to do that I would have to become a citizen of another country; fine, but easier said than done.

I have a kind of backwards national identity problem. Instead of trying to belong, I am trying to get away – trying to break those ties that both control and refuse me. I will always be culturally American but I do not want to be officially American. This official-ness is the toughest to get rid of. I don’t feel a part of or included in being an official American, so why should I have to remain so? Being in a bi-national gay relationship is even more "offensive" to those in control of official nationality. We are both officially from unfriendly environs when it comes to settling together (US and Japan).
Immigration policies around the world are the bane of my existence. Currently my partner and I are trying to become permanent residents of Australia but to no avail. It turns out that I do not have enough "points" to become one. It all rests on my education skills. You see I have a Humanities degree but that does not mean much in the world of immigration – not skilled enough they say.

I refuse to go back to the States when my student visa expires next summer for various reasons none of which have anything to do with the law, just my political choice and frustration. It does not make one a lover of that country when one’s same sex partner would basically not have a chance of getting residency there. It is actually easier for one of us to get a permanent residency here in Australia than for him to get one in the States. Why? Well the "land of the free" will not permit me to sponsor my partner on the grounds that we are considered deviants, and we all know how impossible it is to get a permanent residency there – especially now. Australia has no such archaic law and relatively easier to get in and stay. Eventually we will be able to settle here hopefully, it just will take longer than expected. My partner has a better chance since he is a dentist but it will take longer for him to get the permanent visa than what our current visas allow.

I could go back to Japan after I finish with another annoying piece of paper – the visa. I probably will go back to Japan since that is my only choice and where I have some sort of social base. My partner, who is Japanese, and I do not want to settle in Japan either. It is the same thing – our same sex relationship. This time it is not the fact that he cannot sponsor me (which is in fact true – I can stay there forever as long as I have a job), but that he cannot be "out" there. He has to be closeted to his family and many of his colleagues at his school and, in the future, at his work. The funny thing about this is that I can be "out" in Japan because I am just another weird foreigners and that’s ok. But in his case he is Japanese a completely different story.

I am constantly thinking about my wandering experiences. I lost a sense of home a long time ago – a home that I was born into that is. I do not want to keep wandering forever and I don’t think my partner wants to do that either. I want a new home, one in which I choose to be, not by what my passport says. We are both self-imposed exiles seeking out a place to be together. It is like that Village People song (wonderfully covered by the Pet Shop Boys) "Go West". "Together we will go our way….we will start life new…this is what we’re gonna do…we’ll be what we want to be". We all are just trying to find a place just to be, where we want to be. What’s the problem?

Autoethnography of Silence
Brian R Wood
I was the most silent in class

© Brian R. Wood – Nov 2002
email:woodkoiwa@hotmail.com

Touring Melbourne Museum
Journey Through Bunjilaka
Brian R Wood
'face to face with hundreds of Aboriginal faces and voices '

The Symphony of Life Continuing
Brian R Wood

Melbourne's Wonderful Identity Crisis
Brian R Wood in Australia
I would much rather have a city exploring its identity than one that is set in its way and stagnates


The Nogawa Redemption:
Brian R Wood in Tokyo
This is the Nogawa. One of those hidden treasures you do not find until
you really look for it


Shinjuku: The Empress Dowager of Tokyo
Brian Wood

Good shopping, the best gay bars and where to picnic in Sakura season

Shibuya No Techno
... if I try to understand everything about Shibuy
a, then I would not be really experiencing something that, by nature, defies understanding.

Brian R Wood in Tokyo

More World Journeys in Hacktreks

Even More in Hactreks 2


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