Tag Archives: home

Home Again, Home Again

Vacation with Dad and Carol 2013 moon and mountain (73)
Mount Rainier with her moon friend

I have returned…in so many ways.  Back “home” where I no longer live.  You might wonder if it still feels like home after living abroad for 12  years.  I did go through an awkward phase a few years back, but that was more due to the fact that I’d returned home as a new mom with a baby and no longer fit into the places and relationships that I left there.  But now, after a month of salt water, seafood, barnacles, seagulls, and salmon, I’m feeling pretty at home and so is my five year old.  He told me the other day that we “belonged” here because we speak English.  He’s enjoying the bubblegum ice cream, grilled cheese sandwiches, and French fries.   I’m cringing at the fast and convenience foods, 24 hour everything, giant food portions, and the abundance of televisions and computer screens.

This is his fifth trip to the US and yet he feels just as much as home here as I.  A month has already passed and we have five more to go.  I am curious how he’ll feel as time goes on.  He says he misses his toys and his dad.  My sweet, supportive husband holds down the fort and awaits our return.  He says he’s happy we’re doing this, but he must be nervous even if he won’t admit it.  Part of me is a little nervous, too.  What if I don’t want to go back?  What if it gets too comfortable here?  Ice coffees, everything open all day, friends and family, thrift shops, creative people selling their wares everywhere you look, the waterfront, the diverse and delicious menu choices, the children’s museums in every city, the array of activities and opportunities for young children, not to mention the employment opportunities and the ease with which I can communicate and connect with others.  What if I don’t want to go back?  What if love isn’t all you need?

My husband and I are GOOD at long distance.  We did it for four years.  Four years of poetry, passion, and pain. It wasn’t easy to be separated then.  What if it’s too easy now?  I’m not alone here.  I have my people.  My son.  My compatriots.  It’s so much easier just to be.  I don’t have to try, I just am.  The possibilities here seem abundant and endless. Just like they did when we were engaged, before we moved to Italy.

So, this is my honeymoon phase.  I know. Talk to me in three months and again in five.  Talk to me when we are on month three of nonstop rain and gray and damp and I’ve gained 15 pounds, my kid is addicted to TV and sugar, and I’m afraid to walk down the street at night (I’m only half kidding.).  Ask me, then, if I feel at home here.

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On Homesickness and Denial

IMG_2478I’m from the Pacific Northwest.  I love that place.  The salmon, the mountains, the ocean, the inlets and bays, the trees…it really is all that.  Do I miss it?  Of course.  But, I missed it long before I moved across the ocean.  I’m used to missing it, so it’s not so bad.  I pushed myself to the East Coast more than once, but never felt like I’d found my place.  I don’t know why I wanted to go so far away.   I wasn’t from a bad place or a hard life.  I had friends and family.  I hadn’t burnt down any bridges.  I had a good paying job and an advanced degree. It just seemed like the possibilities were narrow and I wanted something exciting to happen.  You know, people always say, “Be careful what you wish for.”

People always ask me if I miss “home”. There are things I miss. Places.  Ways of doing business. There are people I miss.  I worry that one day it will all be gone.  I’ll go back and everyone I loved will be gone or so changed that we won’t know each other.   Maybe that will be okay with me at some point, but it doesn’t seem okay now.

I wouldn’t call myself homesick, though.  I’ve never expected to return to the US to live.  But, lately, I’ve been feeling a sense of panic welling in my chest. By the time I return to my hometown for a visit, two years will have passed since the last time.  I begin to feel disconnected and a bit lost.  It makes me think of the feeling I have when I’m on a boat and realize I can no longer see land.  There’s this feeling of being so tiny, fragile, and vulnerable when you realize there’s no chance of swimming ashore should something go wrong.  This is the feeling I get when I haven’t been “home” in a long time.

It’s strange because I have a home here, a family, friends.  But every once in a while, I remember, really remember, where I’m from and that it is all still going on there without me, while I’m over here spinning my wheels in pre-intermediate Italian and coming up with plan after plan to “reinvent” myself. And I think to myself, why am doing this???  I wasn’t forced to leave my country.  I’m not in exile.  I’m just married.