How I really feel when I go home
Every time I book a flight, power through the lengthy check-in/security process at the airport, and subsequently endure a trans-Atlantic flight possibly preceded or followed by an arduous layover, I wonder why I decided to move to another continent, thousands of miles away from the family and friends I adore.
Although I only make this trip two to three times a year, my mind experiences a journey of its own through the same (or very similar) sequence of thoughts, including (but not limited to) the following:
- Upon landing and during my first 24 hours in the States: This country is so efficient. This country is so clean. Hooray, I can understand everyone! (With a simultaneous ´Ew, I can understand everyone.´) I can actually hear their private conversations. This seems like a privacy invasion of sorts.
- Everyone here seems to have their lives so figured out and neatly packaged. Good jobs, purchased homes, maybe a few little ones (i.e., dogs). Maybe if I move back to the United States, I can have those things, too. Do I want those things? I don´t know, but people here sure make it seem appealing.
- After a few days in the States: I love it here. I love my family, and I love my friends. I do not know why I decided to move so far away. If I lived here, I would get a well-paying job, I would be back on track to a stable financial state, and I would get a dog and maybe a car. I could slow down and relax a little bit.
- After approximately two weeks in the States: This has been so incredibly wonderful. Time with the family, time with my pups, but sweet baby Jesus, why is everything so expensive? I miss cheap bocadillos. I miss every restaurant having an espresso machine. I would perish here on my Spanish salary. I think I am ready to go back. (Specific to D.C: Why is everyone so serious? Why does everyone look so angry? Was I like that when I lived here for six years?)
- As my return flight nears: This flight is (or, these flights are) going to suck, but I am ready to go back. I miss my small apartment, my block, running through the park, walking to the beach, the electric energy of the city, the unfamiliar familiarity of my home away from home.
There is a lot that I would love about moving back home, but there is a lot that I would regret leaving behind in my expat life. Moving to my home country would signify an end--or at least temporary and lengthy halt--of my expatriate experience, and I do not think that I am ready for that.
As I age and as my preferences change, I have learned what I need and want out of a location, social circle, and career. I am not sure if or when I will ever move back to the United States, but for now I am happy with espresso around every corner, sunshine nearly every day, and weekend sojourns around the continent.