They say you can never go home again.
Having lived abroad for the last 8 years, I’ve been slapped in the face over and over again by that nasty old adage. People and places can change, and they can stay the same. But its not home that’s causes all the problems, it’s you.
The patterns of your daily life are…foreign. What was once strange and new to you is now “home” (you’re even someone who has to put “home” between quote marks).
But what is home to you is still foreign to them. You yourself become a sort of curiosity. Some people react to you with fascination, others shake their heads in disbelief, and others react with the most uncomfortable emotion of them all…a touch of jealousy.
Those are the conversations that make you homesick, even when you’re right back home. That’s when you know that not only do you not belong “here” anymore — you no longer belong to them.
Two weeks out from embarking on our big journey, I suddenly found myself taking an unexpected trip home. My beautiful little warrior of a niece, who had battled a terrible genetic disorder for her entire 9 years life, finally found her peace. She passed away suddenly after a short illness of the type that had plagued her many times before. Her passing is a heartbreaking blessing, and my wonderful brother and sister in law continue to inspire with the remarkable resilience that they have shown for their entire existence as parents. Lily is at peace, and so are her parents.
In situations like these, you go home. I wrapped up work four days earlier than planned, packed up my son, and flew to Texas on 36 hours’ notice. My cousin living in India caught my same London to Houston flight, and we spent 10 hours catching up, reminiscing, reconnecting and remembering. We were met at the airport by my other brother, his wife and two kids. We then picked up my cousin who lives in Hawaii, and the force of nature that is my Aunt Kay who now lives in the US after decades overseas. I’m not the first of my family to live the expat life, and I know I won’t be the last.
Reunions are wonderful, even when they’re under sad circumstances. It was nice to all come home with something else to focus on other than ourselves. It immediately broke any surface tension, and it took no time at all for each of us to warm into ourselves. We were here for Lily and for the people who love her.
And for the first time in nearly a decade, I felt at home….at home.
Easing into our year of life without work, without a commute, without school, without a consistent routine was always going to take time and effort. The first leg of the trip in Norway was meant to be a warm up — a practice trip. Instead, I’m spending three weeks in Texas with family and friends. There is no work piling up at the office. There is no school holiday schedule confining us. There is less pressure to fit in time to see everyone we love into the 10 days we’re here for a flying visit. Plus, I have everyone drinking good English tea!
I’m not here for a visit. I’m here to love on my family, and in a family that doesn’t know quiet – it is calming. I can feel my brain and my body releasing tension, releasing the daily mom-guilt that working mothers sustain themselves with. Austin is loving having his cousin to play with every minute of every day, and he’s only getting out of the swimming pool to wee in the grass and eat oreos. That is six year old bliss right there, people. And don’t tell his dad, but I heard him say y’all yesterday – with his little British accent.
So while blazing hot face-of-the-sun-Texas-in-August wasn’t part of the plan, it was just what was needed. I’m grateful for it. Thank you for this last beautiful gift, sweet Lily. Tia came home again.