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”
Hi Liz, I come to your blog sometimes to read on your adventures. I came to Canada ten years ago when I was 16 and have stayed here ever since. It’s been ten years. My parents have stayed in Korea working except for the first year I was here, so I go visit them once a year, back to my hometown.
Thinking about our pasts and wondering what might have been is relatively normal for a lot of people, myself and other comments included. I also often wonder the impact of decisions I make now, on which I’m likely to reflect somewhere down the road. Like you, I too have lots of questions.
I went through this writing exercise at Self-Authoring just to see if it’d help me answer some of these questions, and maybe even to understand why I ask these questions at all – “I made my decisions the best way I could at the time. Should I just accept the past as is, and move on?”
All I can say is, these questions don’t keep resurfacing anymore – like when you go home. I feel I have finally been able to reconcile with these questions and set my soul free. It’s not stuck, hiding, or going around in circles anymore.
I bought a two for one package for the whole suite (past, present and future) on promotion a while back, and have been looking to see if anyone else would benefit from it. When I read your post I thought you may be interested – so shoot me an email if you are and I’ll send you the login and the password if you like.
Keep harnessing your unique talents that captivate and fuel your life. I truly believe that is what we can do to make our contribution to the world.
I really enjoyed your honesty here (I mean, what else could we expect from you by now!) but it is great that I am not the only one who has these feelings! I grew up in a very small town and when I go back it reminds me of how much I’ve changed and how much I’ve lost (high school “friends”, ex boyfriends). It’s like learning to see it through new eyes.
BUT- then I have to remember that I am being true to myself now, and live for myself. It is never too late to change directions. You have to do what your heart wants to do!
Exactly, well put!
it just speaks to me. i relate to it so much. and you are so honest about it, thank you for making me feel the only one who feels so much at the same time) it’s weird yet wonderful how all the decissions we made (or didn’t make) took us where we are now. and it’s strange to think what would have happened if you didn’t do something or did something differently. god, i just feel too much)
Winchester is only several hours south of my old home in Pennsylvania. Been years since I’ve back – most of my friends and family have either passed or moved south to warmer weather.
My hip wore out making traveling very uncomfortable I just dread the thought of going through the replacement procedure. What if the thing gets recalled? It happened many times in the past. Think I’ll just put it off.