Andreja Brulc's Blog

Day 12 [27 March 2020]: COVID-19 Lockdown: Politics/National Identity/Dual Citizenship [an extract from the diary]

Posted in Covid-19/Lockdown Diary by andrejabrulc on 27/03/2020

Arriving at each new city, the traveller finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places. – Italo Calvino, The Invisible Cities

With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else. – Italo Calvino, The Invisible Cities

I have always loved maps – and especially those imaginary maps with no borders. How silly of me – when global citizenship falls prey to the COVID-19, borders become like walls!

How really convenient of Facebook to have reminded me today of a fine memory from 5 years ago – ​a plan ​how to get back home from my parents’ house by walking — now very useful to know since no commercial flights are available between Ljubljana and London! But would I take a flight if one was available since I have been deliberately avoiding flying for over a month now! I even decided to give up on the idea of attending the London Book Fair, as the visit was not worthy of taking a risk – which then, eventually or inconveniently, got cancelled in the last minute!

Now reflecting upon the memory of the past, I could potentially cycle considering that my London bike ‘exiled’ to my parents’ ​village last summer after it had been collecting dust while being stored in my parents-in-law’s garage for over 15 years. I used the bike only 5 times since I bought it in early 2002, but decided that London was just too aggressive for cyclists. Last summer it needed to be moved out of their garage – my mother-in-law died in March 2019 (her husband in April 2013) – in order to make space for new stories of the new owners!

But there is now an additional trick – how to overcome the hurdle since the EU borders are now being closed: I might be called an ‘illegal border transgressor’ by Schengen countries, or even an ‘illegal migrant’ by the UK Border Agency. Who knows.

Yet – where on earth do dual nationals, legally speaking, belong in such situations under the current circumstances as mine, when ‘stuck’ outside the country (i.e. UK) to which they economically contribute most (i.e. pay taxes from world income), as, to me, it does feel a bit like that I am ‘stuck’ in ‘no man’s land’ – not in the true sense of the word as used in literature to describe the good and the bad of the trenches during the WWI – but more in the sense of being a Citizen of Nowhere. How convenient, or ironical at best, as we, Remainers, have recently been pointed out as such by the ex-Prime Minister of the UK. Perhaps, after all, she was right, how dare she, really!

Now I am sitting on the terrace 10 km​s​ away from the airport observing the plane arriving and leaving the airport, waving ‘welcomes’ and ‘goodbyes’, as Slovenia and the UK are doing the repatriation flight of their nationals!

It is utterly surreal – in the UK, I am called “immigrant”, while in Slovenia, I am “British”! All I know, and what I feel most, is that I am European, but that’s about it!

Perhaps the only solution is — to follow the British attitude ‘keep calm and carry on’ and the Slovene official warning ‘stay at home’! Perfect – so there you are, all sorted! Inhale, exhale, inner peace!

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