When I am “Lost in Translation”

By Michael Patrick, Ph.D.

The past few years have taken me through living in Virginia, China, New York City, and Lithuania. While I wait for the rest of the world to wake up, I’m rewatching movies that I’ve connected with as an eternal expat.

Speaking only for myself and a few others, the nature of an “expat” is that one day you find you no longer belong where you’ve lived. For me, there were too many ghosts. You realize that you’ve stayed too long at someone else’s party. At some point, without sadness, you repack and disconnect as gently as possible. For an expat such as me, geography is an essential part of it. What happens next is often a jumble of the startlingly fresh and serendipitous.

For instance, you make unusual friends in different places who are also “in transition” or “lost in translation”. The rare nature of the friendship between Bill Murray’s character “Bob” and Scarlett Johansson’s “Charlotte” captures those feelings perfectly for me. The film story is unique and different, but it fits for what it says and doesn’t say in the moment. Also, it works because it is a relationship not ridiculously poisoned by an awkward or sloppy affair.

My older brother would fall asleep in five minutes watching this one. “Lost in Translation” is a slower-paced gem not done for the masses. Yet for me, it captures some valued things felt, but rarely expressed.
So, in our bizarre Covid world, here’s to friends and kindred spirits like Bob and Charlotte.

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