Identifying with "Lost in Translation"

I’m more analytical than I give myself credit for and in the recent weeks I’ve been analyzing my current state of affairs as my one-year anniversary of arriving in Chile is quickly approaching.

I think my feelings on the matter can best be described by the original trailer to the movie “Lost In Translation.” I’ll give you a minute or so to check it out below.

Incidentally, I’ve been to Tokyo and aside from being FABULOUS it really IS how it’s depicted in the movie. The thing being that the movie is focused on two different (or similar) reactions to that environment.

Anyway, the case in point isn’t about Tokyo but about my identity crisis in this new chapter of my life. For as long as I can remember, this was the trailer to me:

“Andrea who is originally from Chile, works in anime and is on a mission from God to find THE ONE. Andrea fills her time and space with reading historical fiction and US Weeklys, hanging out with friends, traveling for work and engaging in spontaneous bouts of physical activity otherwise known as cardio excercise. She likes to dabble in drinking wine and playing computer games and is a big fan of greek yogurt. She owns more jeans than she has time to wear and looks forward to baseball season so she can watch games in the sun with her friends (using the term ‘watch’ loosely). She routinely hosts movie nights and girls’ night at her cute, albeit small, apartment. Her cooking skills cover a variety of salads, mostly consisting of lettuce and avocado, with a generous gob of minced Dungeness crab. Andrea has questionable opinions towards all things Mormon and all things ordinary.”

This little paragraph pretty much summed up who I was for a big part of my life and in comparison, my life now looks NOTHING like said points mentioned above.

The trailer for “Lost in Translation” stated in the beginning “Bob is lost.” In this case:
“Andrea is lost as she begins to come to terms with what it means to live her life in another country. Andrea is new to being a wife and suddenly finds herself in charge of a home where two, sometimes four people dwell. She owns a dog who recently chewed up one of her two pairs of high heeled black boots – she is the master disciplinarian. She’s also balancing her career working remotely for a company based abroad, all the while managing her humbling grades in Graduate School. All this grouped with trying to cement bonds and friendships with other women living the Expat life as well. Andrea spends the majority of her days completely alone, reaching out to the world via social online mediums, something she never did before back home. Old Andrea – meet new Andrea.”

I’m learning about being a wife, a “dueƱa de casa” (verbatim, “owner of a home” which has more do with running and creating a home vs fiscally owning a home), being a pet owner, doing my job well but knowing that eventually I’ll need to have a secure job locally if I’m ever going to establish my career whole-heartedly here, branching out, learning how to maneuver myself in this city, so on and so on. All of this is grossly misaligned with what I knew of me before so to me, it’s no wonder that I’m in this perpetual state of crisis with regards to my identity.

In “Lost in Translation,” the character Bob (Bill Murray) asks the character Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) “What do you do?” to which she replies “I’m not sure yet actually” and later, in a different scene, she tells Bob “I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be.”

Chile is full of nuances, bureaucracy, crime, traditions and social norms – things that can make anyone’s head spin even before they have to come to terms with all of a sudden being a wife and “mom” to a six month old dog in a foreign country where no one seems to understand where you’re coming from. As such, it’s pretty hard to determine what one is “supposed to be” at any given point. Shying away from the ordinary and in a land where a) being different isn’t rewarded and b) being different isn’t something easily accessible, you find yourself wondering where your path is and how you walk down it at your own rhythm once you’ve determined said path.

But “the good news is, the whiskey works” to quote the trailer/movie again. And in my case here and now, the whiskey is all things that make being here better than being there… the whiskey is all that stuff that nudges me and says “Hellooooo, remember this?” After all, as much as I loved my single life and LOVED my old apartment, the fact of the matter was that it was lonely on many occasions and even then I had days when I’d be home alone and talked to no one … the bad news being that I didn’t have the reality of G walking in through the door and sharing the evening with me. And if there’s ever one common denominator in the field where all that’s good belongs, it’s G.

In summary, am I having an identity crisis? Yeah, I think I am. I’m in this strange land with its strange customs, where I don’t know tit from tat and on top of that I’m all of a sudden a “housewife” in more ways than I care to recognize. Simply put, the housewife bit is not the gig I was thinking I’d have this time in life and I’m fighting it with blood, sweat and tears. The wife part I like – something one can definitely get used to, but this is also a learning curve. I’m attempting to introduce old Andrea to new Andrea …one’s lost and one’s found. Both are versions of me that I know and love, though the former one is that which I’ve known for a lifetime minus the last year.

In the end it’s the environment, where I am, what I do and who I surround myself with that’s changed. I don’t recognize the usual suspects because the usual suspects are played by completely different people now. It’s on me to get with it and adapt already. I have yet to learn to identify with my new roles in my new world. This is the main reason for said identity crisis I’m proclaiming. In the end, I imagine it happens to others who find themselves in warp speed towards another chapter in life … or is that just the new Andrea wishful thinking?

I have faith in the final thought in the “Lost in Translation” trailer above … “Sometimes you have to go halfway around the world, to come full circle.”

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4 thoughts on “Identifying with "Lost in Translation"

  1. Muffin, it took me three years in Chile to find my place. And to just be ok with being different and to get other people to be ok with me being different. You haven't been here long. You work from home. It's HARD. Don't be so hard on yourself, you always are.

  2. I'll be happy to try to help you reinstate any or all parts of the "old" trailer. Movies, wine, US Weekly, trash talking…

  3. I say take heart in the fact that you realize you're having an identity crisis! As you said, your life has turned well and truly upside down in this past year, and at least half the battle is figuring out that wait, there are things that need to be figured out here. So ok, you're not yet completely happy with this new lifestlye, but the fact that you realize that means that you can actively improve the things you don't like and try to get used to the things that just need a little more time in order to feel natural. Far better than not realizing what's up and just sighing around bemoaning a vague "something" that's bugging you!

  4. Emily/Kyle – I think all my problems would be miraculously less problematic if I left my house more often and not just at night when we have our get togethers. I stew in my thoughts on a daily basis. School doesn't help since it tends to point out my shortfalls.

    Heather, thanks for your offer! I tried to find a way to contact you via another route aside from my blog but couldn't find a "contact" area …

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