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”
Really nice post! I totally can relate to some of the feelings you wrote on your blog post. 🙂
Like you, I also moved abroad after college, floating around from country to country. I taught English for two years in Spain (like you!) and was an Au Pair in Holland and Spain. I am 29, back in NY where I grew up, and finally in graduate school at Parsons. It took a long time to get here, but I wouldn’t change my path.
A lot of my friends are married with kids, and I often think that if I had just stayed, I could be too. The thing is, that wasn’t my path. To tell you the truth, a lot of them are envious of my travels, and wish they had had the adventures I have experienced. You have an amazing life, and you should be proud of the career you have built for yourself.
haha I am but I can’t help but wonder sometimes haha
It’s so interesting seeing your thoughts on this. I for one, never moved from home and it’s my dream to live in New Zealand. I know it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, but it does seem like a grass is always greener on the other side situation. In comparison with living in New Zealand my life here seems so dull. No little lambs to cuddle with!
If it’s any consolation, I love your blog and Instagram and seeing all of your amazing pictures. It makes me feel hopeful I’ll get back to New Zealand again and gives me ideas to plan my next trip.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday. 2017 is gonna be a good year, I can feel it!!
Oh my, how I can relate all too well to this post. I just returned to my hometown in Sun Valley, Idaho after three months in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and I’m having similar feelings and thoughts. While I do love returning home, it’s something I always struggle with because nothing changes while I’m gone. On my travels, I grow so much and have these incredible experiences with amazing people, and then I return home where I’m expected to jump back in where I left off. It’s really difficult. I, too, am always in my head and when I’m at home I often wonder if I’ve made the right decisions in my life and question my path. I guess I don’t really have any advice on this, but I wanted to say that you’re not alone with these feelings and struggles. My kernel of hope here is to say that it always works out. Life always works out and continuing to follow our hearts and intuition is the only thing we can do to know we’re moving in the right direction. Thank you for sharing.
I just chatted with a friend about this about how people grow at different paces