I thought we’d be alike; our hearts each dwelling in multiple places, identity fragmented, like a pencil in a half-full glass of water trying to piece reality together.

But your friends are assembled around you, talking about your vacations — every semester it’s different: Moscow, Milan, Johannesburg, Buenos Aires or something of the sort; I don’t know. Perhaps for you the airfare is no big deal — but for me, traveling has always been surreal. It’s hard to imagine that these places in my heart could be connected coherently by land and water.

In elementary school, I would dream of friends across the ocean; my grandmother’s flat; my old school— and wonder if they were ever real or whether if I had just imagined it all. I would sob and cry and wonder what I was, why I had these emotional ties to something I couldn’t even see anymore; in life I had to separate from my closest friends and had them speak to me in my dreams and then would wake up to find them just beyond the reach of my bedroom wall with all the thirsty agony of chasing a mirage in a desert.

I don’t know why you all never talk about coherence; trying to feel whole, real, and grounded in culture; thesis, antithesis, synthesis— how to synthesize a new, more unified culture from the plethora of cultures you draw from, or whether it’s all possible. Here I am trying to create something stable from my experiences, or how trying repeatedly in my life to bridge the multiple shards of myself (and struggling!) has always inspired me to seek interdisciplinary solutions. But you’re talking about how excellent the cheese in Vienna is or how the hotel in Costa Rica was absolutely gorgeous and I can’t say anything to your group because I can’t find anything similar in your experiences to mine.

Or maybe I’m just actually broken. I don’t know. I’m not sure if I even consider myself a third culture kid anymore.