On going home

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going home nostalgia

As I am writing this, it’s five days til Christmas, and I am sitting on my childhood twin bed in my parent’s house in little old Winchester, Virginia. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.

I don’t come home to the US as often as I like, but when I do I am always overcome with FEELINGS. Emotions. Guilt. Nostalgia. I both love and hate this in equal measure. I feel all the things, good, bad and the ugly.

Nothing puts things quite into perspective like returning home as if nothing is changed a decade after you first left for college. It’s like I slip right back into the role of being petulant 18 year old again. If only I could fit in my jeans from when I was 18. Sigh.

going home nostalgia

My life in New Zealand vacillates between being hectic as all hell and so mellow time almost stands still at my home in Wanaka. There often is no middle ground. Either way it’s all-consuming for me, and eats up my days in endless strings of high adventure, emails, flights, photographs and writing, writing and some more writing, for good measure. There is no time for dwelling on the past.

Years went by in the blink of an eye. How is 2016 almost over? In my head it’s still July. Didn’t I just start blogging? Oh wait, that was six years ago. Fuck me.

I wake up every day and don’t remember where I am, and no, not because I’ve woken up in someone else’s bed (you animals), but rather I spend so much time traveling I don’t often wake up lucid enough to remember which city in which country this hotel room is in.

There is so much work left to do! So many things I meant to accomplish. I’m not ready for the year to be over.

going home nostalgia

But I digress.

When I am at home, I am almost painfully reminded of all my ups and downs over the years, of my successes and total failures. This twin bed has been my bed since before I was a teenager. This house has been my family house since I was 14. Winchester, of all the fucking places, has been my constancy in a life where I never sit still. It’s the one thing that hasn’t changed. It’s the center for all my memories which when I come back, tend to consume me.

Not to mention I just go batshit crazy when I’m here. I love it. I hate it. It’s painful but good for me. I suppose it isn’t healthy to run away from the past or our emotions, right?

going home nostalgia

When I am here I think about all the things that could have been. What if I had done this instead of that? What if I went down this path instead of that one or made that decision instead of this one.

What if I went to UVA instead of Mt. Holyoke for university? What if I had given up on living abroad and moved in with my ex in NYC? What if I had gone back to Spain instead of moving to New Zealand? And the worst, what would my life be like now if I had never started blogging? Shivers.

Would I be happier? Where would my life be now? There are so many paths that are open to us in life, how are we ever sure we took the right one. And why am I even thinking about this? Is there even any point to it all? If I was truly happy now would I even be considering the past like this?

Maybe we just want what we can’t have?

I am one of those people that lives in their heads. And I’m the kind of person that gets extremely nostalgic (like, to an unhealthy level) so I try and focus on the future instead of the past. Otherwise I get moody, depressed and emotional, none of which are all that pretty.

But when I am at home in Virginia, I am forced to confront all those thoughts I can easily avoid in New Zealand. How do I cope?

going home nostalgia

I suppose as we grow older we need to learn to accept the past, accept that it is what it is and we can’t change it, the only choice we have is to acknowledge it and move forward.

Fifteen years ago I was expelled from school for doing drugs. Four years after that I graduated with honors and headed off to New England for college to start fresh, a total nerd. Seven years ago I put off graduate school (in medieval history no less!) and started a travel blog and decided to move to Spain to teach English. Almost four years ago I went pro, and I quit my job and this blog has been my full time job since.

Even though I love my life right now, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns and when I am home I can’t help but think what it might have been. Would I be happier if my situation were different? I miss the comforts of America sometimes (like Target and cheap but tasty tacos) and I often miss the research and writing around history. Even studying. And sometimes I think by choosing the path that I did means I am going to be alone forever. Dismal.

The decisions we make, good or bad, shape who we are today, right? We just have to learn to live with them I guess.

going home nostalgia

So what’s the point with all my blathering about the past? Fuck if I know. I just wanted to share what thoughts have been tumbling through my head this past week in the hopes that maybe even just one of you might relate to it. Surely I can’t be the only one who gets emotional and nostalgic when they go home for the holidays.

And maybe I just need to get rid of my old twin bed and find myself a boyfriend. Accept this is my reality and handle it.  And start planning 2017.

What about you guys? Do you get nostalgic when you go back home? How do you deal? Spill!

going home nostalgia

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87 Comments on “On going home

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  1. Oh hey, I recognize one of these photos 😉 Holy moly–hard to believe it’s almost 10 years since we were back making bad decisions in Salamanca! It’s so fun to read about your adventures–and rest assured we all face those demons from our past decisions, whether they took place 1 mile away or 1,000 miles away. I think it’s good to be reminded of how far we’ve come. You wouldn’t be where you are today if you hadn’t followed every twist and turn along the way–and you’ve done amazing things!! I can’t tell you how often I brag about you!! Also we MAY be planning a New Zealand honeymoon… will email you as soon as we know the deets. SO proud of you, Liz!!!

  2. I really appreciate your honesty here. I haven’t lived outside of the U.S. besides a semester abroad, but I still have similar feelings when I visit the places where I grew up (I’ve moved a bunch). It’s amazing how each decision we make can set us on a completely new course in life – from where we go to college to which jobs we take to which apartments we rent. I guess the most important thing is feeling confident in the choices you have made, and if at some point you do get restless or desire something different, to not be afraid to explore it completely and honestly. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever stop grappling with all of this! Side note: Winchester is totally on my short list of day trips from D.C.! If you find yourself in/around D.C. while you’re home and have any desire to tackle these topics with a fellow blogger, let’s grab a coffee!

  3. It’s never too late to change paths. Your path looks pretty awesome, but if you stop wanting it, just change. You can always go back to it…even though it is a pain in the ass to change back and forth multiple times. Right now, I teach English in Spain. Next year, I want to teach in Korea. After that, I’m not sure what I’ll do, but I probably won’t teach English anymore. I used to work in purchasing, and it was pretty lame, so I doubt I’ll be going back to that. Some people are just restless and bound to change their lives/careers up a bunch of times. I also do feel lonely. Dating abroad is really hard because most guys see you as a temporary fix, even if they deny it. It sucks! PS: I find your blog really inspirational and helpful! It helped a lot with my move to Spain last year. – Molly

  4. I know so many of these feelings. You can’t help but wonder. And even though it is home, it is all so different but exactly the same. Nevertheless, being home for the holidays is always some sort of relief, at least for me, because that is the one time of year it will always feel right to me to be at home. Enjoy it, the crazy, emotional rollercoaster and all!

    1. My girls feel the same when they come home to their old rooms whether at Christmas or the 4th of July (which in the lakes country of Minnesota is just a about as important of holiday). As a mama who is now starting to travel solo and blog, thanks to you and your virtual encouragement, it is funny to me how they want to be adventurous and free yet are forever reminding me that I can never sell this house or change their rooms. Funny how life is.

      Ps. Do you know of any seminars in the USA similar to the ones that you offer on becoming a travel blogger?? This mid-life mama needs a community and guidance!!

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