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. Thanks for your honesty, Liz! I haven’t lived in Canada in years and I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t think about what would have happened if I chose a different path. I love exploring different countries and learning different cultures. Whenever I start to question my life, I am just reassured that at the time I made these decisions, they were the right ones for me at that time in my life. My husband and I left New Zealand in August to move back to England. We realise it was a total mistake and I am moving back next month and he will follow later in the year. Some choices are good ones, some are bad – but that’s how we learn and grow! I literally break out in hives when I think we could be living in one spot for the rest of our lives. Freaks me out.

  2. After I lived in New Zealand for 6 months, I had to come home and live with my parents and work a boring desk job for about 6 weeks before I went back to school in Idaho. I was SO miserable and was convinced that when I got back to school everything would go back to normal. Yeah. It didn’t. I felt so out of place and couldn’t figure out where I was supposed to be, or what my “home” was. I think being wanderers and jumping from place to place confuses our sense of belonging sometimes. Reflecting on your sense of place can be challenging but it’s important. Not sure if this is similar to what you’re feeling, but it seemed like a relevant bit to share!

  3. RELATABLE! I am back living close to where I grew up but I still don’t know what i’m doing or where the time is going and often wonder where else I may be had I chosen other paths at life’s crossroads. Have a nice break with your family!

  4. I’ve been following your blog for a few months now. The short of it is that I also have many of the same feelings as you, even though I’m coming at this from the other end of things.

    Two years ago, I finished grad school and spent a month in NZ. Along the way, I met a ton of people who had been all over the world, and who were spending much longer than me abroad.

    After I got home, I started work at a job and place that I really like. But I kept in touch with everyone else who was still traveling and it made me ask questions too.

    Am I happy here, or is it just a safe place that I can say is responsible when I should be out seeing the world instead?
    What will happen if I keep working here?
    Am I throwing life and the remains of youth away?
    Am I hiding from taking the risk of traveling and growing alone, or would that be a fiscally irresponsible flight of fancy?
    Who else could I meet if I keep traveling? Who will I miss if I do?

    In short, what is “right”?

    It seems like a lot of people have suggested that enjoying the ride and the decisions you make are the best things to do. All I can say is that you’re not alone with your existential questions.

    Personally, I agree with your willingness to check in with yourself once in a while and ask if you’re still happy. For what it’s worth, it definitely seems like you lead an exciting life that very few people manage to succeed in!

    I look forward to your next blog post!

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