In my marketing zeal this past week, I went to look over the reviews of all my books (have you read them? Did you leave a review? Would you please?) and I noticed that Wendy identified Michael as an expat.
I suppose he is, in a manner of speaking, though I didn’t set out to write him like that. He does have many of the same problems, however. My husband is currently living in Tokyo and we have a large number of friends, acquaintances, and family that are people living in countries that are not their native land.
I asked him to do a quick and very informal of some of his friends to see what the hardest things were for them when they moved to Tokyo. They were a mix of the very practical— finding a place to live. Getting a phone, internet, and banking set up— and the social— missing a favorite food, or even a simply familiar one. Missing familiar places and feeling lonely for friends and family. Homesickness. But on the whole, I got the sense that they were all willing to adapt and whether the few difficulties and aches that come with being an expat.
Michael has a slightly different problem, of course. He’s probably closer to a refugee than an expatriate. It was not his first choice, or even his only choice really, to leave his home and come to live in a different dimension altogether. He was driven out by his brother’s ambitions and the culture of violence and ambition that the demon realm is built upon.
Still, many of his troubles are similar. When he first arrives he must overcome the language barrier (and figure out a good disguise. Not a lot of humans with brick-red skin.) He must find a place to live and overcome his own anger. Fortunately for Michael, his curiosity is what made him so odd back home, and it stands him in good stead here amongst humans as well. He quickly decides to learn all he can about the new culture he must live in, and he dives right in. He does enjoy his sushi, but he probably remembers the foods he ate growing up with a touch of nostalgia. (This is how my dad and I ended up making ‘demonic meat muffins’ the other day…)
I hope that when I finally join my husband in Tokyo I can be much like Michael: adaptable, curious, interested in understanding the people around me and the culture they view as ‘just life.’ What about you? Are you an expat? What was the hardest thing for you?