The longer I stay in Tonga the more I feel my own foreign-ness.
The first three months, I did what every other person on holidays does - I "fell in love with the place!" Does that sound familiar? A superficial understanding of the culture, the novelty and excitement of The New, it all contributed to the love I felt for Tonga.
As the months since then have passed, and my understanding of the complexities of Tongan culture has grown, I feel more and more unrelated to this place, and less and less love for it. Because it is not my home, and it is not my culture, and I am a foreigner here. That doesn't mean I can't appreciate it for what it is, because I do. But I cannot love it, because that kind of love is blind and uncritical, and I lack the time (and, in all honesty, the inclination) to develop a greater depth of love.
I am too enculturated elsewhere. I can critique my own culture, but any other culture I merely criticise. You have to really comprehend it - what lies behind it - to critique something, and I think that's impossible for a culture you have never lived. Everything else, then, is just criticism.
Perhaps this is my way of dealing with all the frustration of my work, of being apart from my partner, of being thus isolated - to just distance myself from the culture. Maybe it's a cop out. Or perhaps, in getting to know Tonga, I have fallen out of love with it.
If only all romances could end with such clarity!