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. It’s always lovely and nostalgic to return Home, or what was childhood home. I try and connect with all the people who are still around and it’s always full of nostalgia and fun… And the occasional sad stuff… It’s an experience

  2. Oh man, this post gave me all the feels! I’m often misty-eyed when I touch down in Chicago once a year thinking about how different life could have been if it weren’t for break ups, for defying my parents’ wishes for me, for Spain, for kissing that Spanish boy who bought me a few drinks simply because he bought me a few drinks.

    Home, for me, is also the constant. I pull out yearbooks, old photos and even old college bar crawl shirts when I’m home. I can keep all of that stuff at arm’s (well, a plan ride’s) length away, but I find myself snuggling up to it when I’m home. It’s a strange contrast between the life someone essentially built for you, and the one you’re forging for yourself.

    Excuse me while I get all my cry out now before my parents arrive.

  3. OMG Liz that was like reading my own story, but 35 years ago! I had all those same feelings whenever I was home (or had to return, you know, broke ‘n’ all). I asked myself what could have been *IF* many times over. I noticed how friends had finished college and were already under way in their careers, and I was still “finding myself” (aka enjoying traveling too much to stop yet). I loved reconnecting with home and my childhood bed, but also hated being there in my parents’ home again because it made me question myself. Funny how the family dynamics never really change even when we mature and return to them with all our fabulous experiences and new insights into life swiriling around in our heads.

    I say don’t get hung up on whether you’re on the so-called normal trajectory (ie., finding man while ovaries still rapid firing!), just keep doing what you’re doing because that’s what you love and it’s good for you NOW. Things will fall into place. There are SO many girls/women reading your blog, I’m sure, who are ENVIOUS of your guts to take the bull by the horns and live such a life.

    Except for obvious things, my life was similar to yours … didn’t want to go to Uni (at least you started), constant travels, before deciding that photography was the obvious thing because I had always been interested in it and had a big photojournalistic streak that needed to be itched. Then other things began falling into place. Born and raised in Sydney & Tasmania, then ended up in Colorado and ultimately Pennsylvania (I’m not all that far from you now!). I’m a photographer and ski instructor. Not big professional careers necessarily, but they suit ME. Husband, two children, both of whom are probably your age now. One in Va, the other in Sydney spreading her own wings … just like her Mum.

    Viva life’s journey, and journeys, and keep doing it your way. You will know when a change is in order.

    Merry Christmas!

    (instagram @emjaynie4)

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