Home?

#sol22- July 12, 2022

Today I realize, yet again, the dilemma of home. After three years of not traveling “home” I am just finishing up my visit and I have been eager to return “home” for the last two weeks. Where and what is home?

For most of my adult life I have lived outside the US (UK, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Poland, Germany, India, Malaysia, and now Cambodia) and I have learned that “home” is wherever I currently live. Yet many summers I go “home” (in this case Boston) to see family and friends. I have a love-hate relationship with this pattern. I love seeing the people (although sometimes it can feel awkward or forced). I enjoy the opportunity to revisit familiar places, but it is often in that gauze like haze of “I sort of remember this, is this how it goes?” I love being able to buy clothes or other products I cannot easily find in my other home (although this summer my go to clothing store was a huge flop- zero purchases there).

There is the hate side too (I know hate may be too strong a word). I hate feeling like a tourist in my own country- I panic when faced with things that everybody seems to have mastered- I do not know how to do self checkout, do I swipe, tap, or hand the credit card to the cashier?, there are terms and references I do not understand and it all makes me feel slightly out of place. I also do not like having my own space- I generally squish in with family and while I am grateful for that time and their generous hosting I usually live alone and all that peopling is exhausting, I do not get enough of the sit on the couch and read time, as there always feels like the pressure to “do” something. I also never manage to get to see all the people I hope to- their summer schedule does not always align with mine. I also hate that the US does not live up to all the hype- this summer with Supreme Court decisions, more shootings, so many racist events in the news- this was more clear to me than ever. Somehow I miss my rose colored view.

In writing this down I see that I am an absolutely privileged brat. I am so lucky to call two places at a time home. I am lucky that I have family and friends that still put up with me. I have just spent nearly four weeks soaking up love and fun. I was lucky to be able to see my sons, parents, sister, and many friends. I know it is part of the process to feel almost totally ready to be away from wherever I am leaving. Today is for that.

Today I will check off my “Things to do before I leave” list and ensure I am packed and ready for the long trek “home” – it will be nearly 40 hours door to door and a total mind and heart shift. And that is good and right and necessary. Flying out at 11 PM means I have the whole day, so I have to pace myself. For now I will allow myself a bit of a wallow then get going to make the most of my last day “home” before returning “home”.

10 thoughts on “Home?

  1. The word that comes through so much in your slice is honesty. Especially when you shifted and admitted through this line: In writing this down I see that I am an absolutely privileged brat. I am so lucky to call two places at a time home. I often find traveling hard because of the added pressure I put on myself to ensure it all goes well. I am exhausted thinking about how it will take you 40 hours to get back to Cambodia. Do know that I am glad you came to DC. I enjoyed our lunch chat and being a tourist with you at Planet Word. Safe travels as you return home!

  2. This slice is really thought provoking. For the longest time after marrying, I still referred to my Dad’s house as “home.” Then I added our house, so had two “homes” as well. As you point out, that is a privilege. I’m glad you enjoyed time reconnecting and can totally relate to your challenges. Even without the distances you travel, going “home” is more than a physical experience. Safe travels!!

  3. I will not complain about my two flights that will take up about 10 hours door to door. It is a privilege that we should not be grumbling about but the break in routines does create a disturbance in our universes.
    I cannot imagine myself traveling to Cambodia to visit you; I will have to catch you the next time you are stateside. Take care!

  4. Honestly, you sound more human than brat to me. I’ve lived in the same house almost 24 years (July 31) and long to leave, to travel, and to move even though I love my home. When I travel I’m often eager to return to my nest. Some of us are more restless than others. Perhaps we have a wandering spirit. Maybe it’s our idealism as educators and the reality it can never be fully met that keeps us unsettled. Peopling is exhausting, and we need our alone time, no matter how much we love those humans and those homes.

  5. On our morning walk, my husband said, “Maybe we’ll live in Asia for awhile, like in Cambodia.” And then I open up my laptop to your post. Thank you for sharing some thoughts, feelings, ideas that I hadn’t considered when thinking about living in another country.

  6. The discomfort you feel at home in the states serves to show how well you have adapted to all your other homes. That is an impressive and varied list. I love to travel but am also a coward about it- always at war with myself. You are a citizen of the world and have special insight.
    PS- my favorite line was too much peopling!

  7. Safe travels to you, Erika. I feel honored to have been one of the people you saw this trip home. I like my time alone to myself, and now I have to travel (not nearly as far) to see my parents, so I connect to being around or in someone else’s space.

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