I've spent the last week in the Netherlands at my parent's house, trying to do some life admin. When you live in several different countries there's always stuff that stays behind and remains undone. This week I did a lot of organizing in my personal life. It's several things that I no longer have to worry about now, which is great for mental peace.
Some of the things that I thought were a must-do when preparing my to-do list in the UK ended up being things that I just couldn't be bothered to do now that I'm here. And the opposite; some of the things I didn't think would be important to do while in Holland turned out to be a must. When I think about why I change my mind on these things, I can't help but recall my old theory of acting like a different person in different countries. I've blogged about this several times before but can only seem to find this post at time of writing. Based on my experience and the people I've talked to about this, I seem to experience the personality disconnect a lot stronger than others when I switch countries.
After leaving Japan and starting a new life in the UK I sort-of expected that this would no longer be an issue. My Japan life had ended, so I could 'discard' that part of my personality, though in reality most it had already been absorbed by my then-current personality. My UK personality was just a natural evolution of who I was when I left Japan, and one that I could (and can) continue to develop as my primary personality. In the early days of my UK life I found so many similarities between the UK and Holland that I assumed this would make it easier for me to reconcile the two personalities, linking 'who I am' to 'culture' instead of to time period, which is what I currently believe it's based on.
Such is my shock when I go back to Holland now and assume my UK personality by default, only to be slowly pummeled back into that indifferent teenager that I was when still attending uni and living with my parents. Despite my best efforts at being one person, I always end up being two! Or three, even, because as it turns out my Japan life never really ends either. There's still remnants of my life there that I regularly interact with, and there's plenty of chance in the London area (and Europe) to meet with old friends from those days, which inevitably conjures up the naive and innocent little me from my Japan days. I find it a bit easier to be the 'current' UK-me in those situations compared to when I'm back to being Holland-me, possibly because UK-me and Japan-me are simply more recent.
It doesn't seem to make sense to do a force-shutdown of my old lives in order to enforce the 'one true personality'. Instead it's best left to let it simmer down slowly without bothering to forcefully integrate it into my current personality. That way I can enjoy the old times and the new. There is no conflict any more. I know who I am now and who I was before. If I occasionally clone a personality linked to a time period every once in a while, that's probably a sign that I'm making progress as a person.
So they're backup copies of myself, really.
Geek analogy: lives in other countries are like old savegames of games you no longer play any more. You tend to forget all about those lives, but sometimes chance makes you find them again and you suddenly remember exactly where you parked your cars in GTA:Vice City or San Andreas. Ah, the good old days..