I think human souls are tied to the land that bore them, shaped by it, created to fit the terrain, the weather, the language, the culture of the motherland. When transplanted into a new land, forced or otherwise, souls need to conform. They get broken somehow, edges filed away, bones cracked, empty spaces are hidden or forgotten. That’s why it is easier for kids to abandon their old homelands and immigrate to a new homeland — their souls are still flexible. Adults never truly adapt, they are forever broken, torn away from their motherland. And people who leave their birthplaces when they are somewhere in the middle — not quite adults not really children — become strange misfits. On the outside, they look like they belong, but scratch below the surface and there are surprising gaps and unexpected breaks in their psyche.
America is the land of broken souls. “First-generation” or “foreign-born” comprise as much as 13% of all Americans (per 2013 census), more than one in ten! In many ways, immigrants are the most vulnerable population — these are the people who will never quite fit into the fabric of their new homes, they will forever remain tied to their homeland by their souls’ umbilical cords. And thus they are the easiest population to manipulate. Perhaps this idea of a soul made to fit a new shape might also be understood by migration from rural to urban areas. The shock to the system might be as large (even as the damage, I believe, is not as extensive.) City dwellers have always been able to spot farmer transplants walking among them. Even if they are “dressed right”, those who moved from small rural communities into a large metropolis are instantly identified as soon as they start to speak…to move even. “There goes a rube!” And obviously the reverse is also true: “There goes a city slicker!”
There is “immigration” in time too. There are people who always yearn for the good old days. But if they ever got back there, they will find themselves strangers in strange lands, for the passage of time has changed them. The past is never as great as imagined from the future. Recently, the pandemic adaptations made me realize that we might all be immigrants in time. Even more striking is how we all feel adrift in this age of pandemic. We don’t really recognize the world around us. Familiar places like restaurants and supermarkets and schools are all different, slightly sinister (or more than slightly anxiety-inducing). Shopping has become search and destroy missions where familiar items are no longer available, strange brands having replaced them. Eating out means either ordering food to be brought in or sitting outside in widely spaced circles, hoping that this is not the day the virus gets you. Some people survive by believing that COVID-19 is just some super hoax. Others believe that they are immune. But it doesn’t change the fact that the world is pretty unrecognizable from the one we lived in 2019. We are all immigrants in the land of COVID. And we all have to break a bit to try to fit in, and find our new places in the new order of things.
One thing hasn’t changed — reading fiction still works as an escape from reality. So for those of you who read this far, I’ve made my latest novella free on Amazon (August 15 to 20). Good Girl is a story of a psychotic artificial intelligence on an interstellar voyage. We rely on AI to teach themselves to do complicated things. But we really don’t know what they are learning, for learning is always done in context. I hope you will enjoy this one.
I’ve also included my book God of Small Affairs in a Paranormal Suspense club for the month of August. It is of course about immigrants and about paranormal strangeness. You can click on the link and download it for free or get any of the other cool books in this giveaway. Reading will save us…
And for those of you who are stuck at home with a bunch of kids and closed schools, here is how to set up an educational family co-op together with some free curriculum. Remember, kids will be okay. They are immigrating into this new reality pliable. Adults will have a harder time of it. Hope it helps!