A woman who is stranded in the United States, where she was seeking adventures but is increasingly feeling homesick. Never able to fully arrive in this country the woman wanders through the streets of New York one day until she finally enters a museum that eventually helps her realize that she must go home again to feel whole again. This is the core plot of the short story “Transient”, written by Kellly Joseph.
“And I cry for myself, thousands of miles from home, struggling to stay strong but failing miserably. I don’t know how I strayed so far from my beginnings.”p. 147
A relatable woman
Reading this story, I was quickly involved, it reminded me of my own experience of leaving my home country and diving in a new and different culture, remote from my roots and familiar surroundings. A major difference to the woman in the story was that I knew the day I would travel home, though, hence I never reached a point of comparable desperation.
Right from the beginning, I was able to sympathize with the female protagonist because of the intimate emotions and thoughts we are presented with. Being “the same awkward, shy-arse girl” is a thought I could relate to, which got me invested in the story and encouraged me to continue reading. I really liked the chain of events that emerged afterwards. Busy city, busy people and no one noticing what is really going on around them. Anonymous in the crowd, just like a beggar, the only person who notices her breaking out into tears at the exhibition. This little twist towards the end that builds a bridge to the beginning reminded me of a spiral inside the story, which in turn made me think of whakapapa, the way Māori look at their heritage.
“Surrounded by thousands of displaced objects, I know what must be done.”p. 149
Displaced like an exhibit
As the story draws to a close, the protagonist concludes that she must reconnect with her roots. Though it was clear to me that the story could only end in this decision, I enjoyed the metaphor of the museum, making the woman one of many exhibits that are out of place. By relating to one exhibited object in particular, and seeing it in a larger context of displacement, she is able to grasp the severity of her own loneliness and homesickness. All in all, the story was successful in conveying a sense of what it feels like to be out of place, surrounded by strangers in a strange place.