I’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.