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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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!
87 Comments on “On going home”
Reading what you wrote felt like paraphrasing myself…I get lost in thoughts just like the ones you described here ever since I came back home (this happened 1 year ago and “home” has never really felt like home, to be honest..so i miss my life abroad a lot)
This being said, I think you are 100% right when you say that we just need to accept what was and what is, and move forward from there. We can always change and try a different “life path” but all that happened till now made you who you are, and living abroad definitely changes you for the better, I believe 🙂
And yes, I also think that we always want and value what we don’t have and, many times, we don’t even fully appreciate what we DO have in our lives! All those experiences (including dealing with immigration and opening bank accounts in foreign countries…we grow up and learn how to embrace uncertainty and vulnerability , while making it all work out 🙂
And the great people we meet (those who help us when we are totally lost and don’t have a clue about anything in that new place), the “different personalities” we embody in different languages…all these are PRICELESS and so unique!!
home can make us go back in time and feel “little”, “inadequate” AND question our choices BUT home was the starting point and we’ve evolved since then and thanks to it! So, don’t get caught up in that image of yourself!! Let’s appreciate our freedom, our love for life “out of the comfort zone” and the endless possibilities ahead of us!! 🙂
Take care and become good friends with people who think and feel like you, it is absolutely wonderful to feel deeply understood!! 😉
love that thank you!
Probably part of what makes you a wanderer (a strong curiosity) also makes you a wonderer! I suspect it goes hand-in-hand for those of us with a restless nature. I live in my head a lot, too! Sadly or thankfully (?), going to a childhood home for me doesn’t exist – we moved around all of my life and my parents even continued to move around after I moved out, so I’m sort of a mutt. 🙂 Enjoy your holidays at home and your time of reflection – it’s never a bad thing!
that’s such a perfect way to think about it!
I couldn’t agree with you more on this. I haven’t lived in my “hometown” in nearly 7 years and I go back less and less every year to visit due to those same feelings. I feel more at home on the road than I ever did in my parents house. I’ve gotten used to coming and going often & the people in my life, although they might be few because of it, get that as well. They support me and I’m grateful for that but sometimes going “home” brings up all those feelings again about “what if this and that or this?!”
so hard to deal
I totally relate to it, Liz!
I have been living in Ireland for nearly 3 years and a half now, and last summer, was the first time I went back home (in Brazil). I spent 3 years abroad, far from my home country, family and friends.. and the feeling to be back home after so many years living in a different country and travelling to so many places, it is something I can’t really describe. A mix of good, bad, nostalgia, and all these ‘what if” questions. It was painful. And a feeling that I never felt before, as it was my first time home. All so crazy, right? I think only if you have been through something like that you can understand these so many FEELINGS! Yet so good to feel!
Phew glad it isn’t just me!