Expat Magazine

Homecoming: A Look Back

By Zach Zine @Int_In_Debt

A little over a month ago we posted about our apprehension and feelings about going home for the first time in over a year.  Now, we have returned from Chicago and feel we should look back, react, and report what it was really like being home for a month.

To begin, it was amazing to us how quickly you can re-assimilate to your old life, home, family, and friends.  After the initial night of deliriousness and jet-lag, it was an almost instant repatriation.  It very quickly felt as though we had never left.  It felt as though the last year of our life spent on the other side of the Earth, literally, was some sort of dream.  Some kind of surreal experience that stopped time and space for a year.  A pause on a life so familiar for an experience in a life so different.  It’s a truly odd experience to think back on the past year of one’s life in such a light.  But, that is exactly how it felt.  The life, the places, the people that we had grown up with for so long just fit right back into place without friction despite the fact that it was put on pause for over a year.  Is it entirely surprising that this would happen?  No.  Was it a relief after all of our anxiety before our homecoming?  Yes.  It felt good to be seeing friends, family members, places, environments, etc. after some time away.

Now, this isn’t all to say that there was nothing about being home that was a change.  As we noted in our original post, things change.  Regardless of the feeling of paused time for us after we returned and melted back into our old selves, at least partly, the rest of the world back at home was moving.  Parents and other family get older.  Younger siblings move away to college.  Friends get engaged.  Stores and restaurants open and close.  People die, move away, or get involved with crowds that they probably shouldn’t.  It would be selfish for us to think that change wouldn’t occur with us being away.  It is just a fact of life.  So, while we did re-assimilate quite quickly within our homes and families, there were definite and real changes that we had to recognize.

One of the things that became very clear to us was that being away and then coming back for a short amount of time really does show you those people in your life who are the most important, the most caring, the people you truly need.  It is cliche, but it is also very true that “distance makes the heart grow fonder.”  Seeing people in person (Skype is a great thing but does not make up for a lack of real contact) that you hadn’t seen in a very long time is an amazing experience.  A rush of nostalgia, love, guilt, happiness, sadness, and many other emotions.  Nostalgia due to the many memories had with these people.  Love because, duh. love.  Guilt because you left, and will leave again.  Happiness to see that they still look at you the same way: as a friend, son, daughter, brother, sister, etc.  Sadness because you know that they want you to stay in some way, shape, or form.  It is just an emotional experience.

But, that is something we probably expected.  What we didn’t necessarily expect, at least not fully, was that coming home would really weed out those people who were going to be constants in the future, and those who may fall to the wayside.  Great friends and family members become even greater.  They make an effort.  They take time off of their lives to see you despite the fact that they have other things that are going on.  They come and see you as much as they can, and you try and see them as much as you can.  Then, there are those friends who are just friends.  There are some attempts to connect and see each other, but little more.  Time flies when you only have a month, and before you know it it is gone and you are leaving again.  It is hard to recognize that some people that you do care about as a friend may not always be there.  In the end, though, it is just great to see those friends that you can look to as family and constants in your life.  And, of course, it is amazing to see the family members that have always been a part of your life but have gained an even stronger bond with you since you saw them last.

In the end, we found that much of what we feared was little more than over-analyzing on our parts.   Certainly, as we said, there were realizations that certain friends were not going to be there going forward, at least not as constant parts of our lives.  But, with that we realized and clarified those people we wanted to see most, and will want to see the most in the future.  Family, best friends, our homes are, we now know more than ever, something that is always there for us.  A safe place.  A place where we will always be welcomed and loved regardless of how long we are gone, where we go, and what we may or may not become.  It is a great feeling to realize that you always have a home to go back to and are able to fit right in.  We are extremely grateful for our homes now more than ever.



Similar experiences or realizations?  Different ones?  Tell us below.

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