Portrait of Pablo Meninato

“There is a permanent feeling of longing, of missing places, smells, food, family, and childhood friends.”

Pablo Meninato is an architect.

Pablo Meninato's passport photo.

Pablo Meninato’s passport photo.

I immigrated twice to the US: I first came as a student (after four years I went back to Argentina), and after ten years I returned with my family. In regards to our second departure, I remember we had a gathering with friends and family at our home. I don’t recall any particular food we had that night. We just wanted to spend time together with people we love, talk a little bit about the oncoming challenge of moving to a new country (an experience that could be particularly hard for the kids), though we also chatted casually about diverse and mundane topics.

We flew from Buenos Aires to JFK airport in New York, from where we rented a van to Philadelphia. We were not certain if the move was going to be permanent; though we thought that was a possibility. I definitively feel pulled between two cultures and two languages. Seems to me, once eradicated from your place, you never feel again completely “at home.” In my case, since I left the first time, I have never felt completely at home either in the US or in Argentina.

Sometimes I think I’ve become a sort of “amphibious,” since I can survive in different environments, though I never feel fully adjusted. Moving, like most experiences, has its positive and negative aspects, no doubt it is wonderful to get to know so well a different culture, make new friends and engage in a new language; though by the same token, there is a permanent feeling of longing, of missing places, smells, food, family, and childhood friends.

Pablo Meninato, Arquitecto

En dos ocasiones emigré a los Estados Unidos. La primera vez vine como estudiante, pero luego de cuatro años retorné a la Argentina. Luego de establecerme diez años en Buenos Aires, regresé a Filadelfia esta vez con mi recientemente creada familia: mi mujer Silvana, y mis pequeños hijos Paula y Lorenzo. En ocasión de la segunda despedida, tengo vivamente presente la reunión con nuestros familiares y amigos en nuestra casa en Buenos Aires. De esa noche no recuerdo alguna comida en particular, tan solo el querer disfrutar los últimos momentos con la gente que queremos, hablar del desafío de mudarse a otro país, y especular sobre cómo nuestros hijos confrontarían la inédita experiencia. También conversamos sobre cuestiones mundanas, como ser libros, películas o fútbol. Desde Buenos Aires volamos al aeropuerto JFK en NYC, donde alquilamos una camioneta para ir a Filadelfia. En ese momento, con Silvana no sabíamos si la movida era permanente, pero teníamos claro que era una posibilidad. Definitivamente me siento tironeado por dos culturas y dos idiomas. Me parece que, una vez erradicado de un lugar, uno no termina de sentirse completamente “en casa” en ningún otro sitio. En mi caso, desde que me fui de Argentina la primera vez, nunca me sentí completamente en mi lugar ni en los Estados Unidos, ni en la Argentina. A veces pienso que me he convertido en una suerte de ‘anfibio,’ ya que puedo sobrevivir en diversos ambientes, pero nunca me hallo totalmente adaptado a un sitio. Mudarse, como la mayoría de las experiencias, tiene su aspecto positivo y negativo, sin duda es magnífico poder conocer tan bien una cultura diferente, hacer nuevos amigos, y aprender un nuevo idioma. Pero al mismo tiempo, hay una persistente sensación de ‘falta,’ de extrañar ciertos lugares, aromas, comidas, familiares, y amigos de la infancia.

Portraits of People on the Move tells the stories of Philadelphia-area immigrants through their own words on the Supperdance.com blog and was first shown as an exhibition June 25–28, 2015, at the Gray Area of Crane Arts in Philadelphia. The exhibition was created as a companion work to Supper, People on the Move by Cardell Dance Theater, a dance inspired by themes of migration.

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