CHRIS CAMBELL \
split infinity I’m a father. I’m a father. I’m a father.
I’m a father. I’m an immigrant. I’m a father.
I chant this to myself this many times a day when I’m not around my son, just so I don’t forget. While I’m at my day job, which doesn’t match the subject written on my degree. While I’m on the bus wondering whether to phone the police about the drunk man throwing up three rows back. While I walk to the shops for more milk, contemplating how the last three and a half years since I moved to England have felt like an instant and an eternity.
Sometimes I wonder if the chanting is due to lack of sleep. I always thought it was a myth that parents wouldn’t get much shuteye with a newborn. In the days leading up to our son’s birth, I complained to my English rose about the cynical sirs and madams weighing me down with warnings of impending insomnia sure to be forced upon us when our child would arrive. It turns out they weren’t just cynical, they were also right. I’ve found that earplugs help. Does that make me a bad parent?
I’m an immigrant. I’m a father. I’m an immigrant. The chanting isn’t necessarily a conscious choice, it just sort of started one day and I’m seeing where it leads me as I explore the strange world that is living in a new country. For instance, you have to learn all the cuss words and rude gestures and which way people like their tea. Then you have to decide whether you like the crude you grew up on or the local tongue. Of course a baby throws a monkey wrench right in the middle of this. Suddenly couples who swear like sailors are aghast that I use the word “fart” around my infant. It’s just not cricket, that, mate. Then they turn around and put four sugars in their tea. Ridiculous!
I’m a father. I’m an immigrant. I’m a man with an identity crisis. I have never felt more patriotic than I do now. Not about the USA as it is today but the spirit of the people who first ventured forth to settle there. To have left their native land in search of a better life across the sea, only to find that they were unwelcome, weary, and facing challenges beyond anything they had previously known. As I stand, holding my son on foreign soil, doggedly looking toward a strange and uncertain future in England, I feel the spirits of my fellow countrymen next to me. For maybe the first time, I feel like I have a country, that I belong, that I finally know who I am.
Issue 17 of The Leeds Debacle