family / myself

Verfremdungseffekt

I remember learning about Brecht in college Theatre History class. I loved how Brecht told stories and I loved this word: Verfremdungseffekt. Mistranslated as the Alienation Effect, I prefer the concept of distancing to alienating. It describes the way you feel when you are watching the play and suddenly the scene shifts and the character sings directly to the audience. You feel pulled out, distanced, from the story, but still connected.

Our professor gave us the example of the way we feel when we return home from college for the first time. The story of our family and our hometown continues but we have changed and suddenly, we are singing directly to ourselves inspite of the ongoing story.

I still feel distanced when I return home and I struggle with it. I am a very different person from the me at 18 when I drove to Indian with my parents. I am a very different person from the me who drove to Pennsylvania 5 years later. And I am even a different person from the me who visited last summer.

There are the obvious differences between my story and the story of the family and my hometown, but that isn’t it. So I’m pregnant, so my parents have moved, so parts of the city have changed. That makes a bit of a difference, but the real difference is deeper, and I don’t know that I really understand it.

I feel like I can’t go home again. My home isn’t Pensacola anymore. My family has expanded (and will continue to) and I feel incomplete without David (not in the co-dependent way, but in the balanced way). I feel incomplete without my stepkids.

I never felt so happy to get back to Reading. Not because I dislike my family or hometown, or even because I like Reading so much. But this is where home is. Now.

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