With the amount of time I spent at home, I did what I usually do – think too much. Or maybe it isn’t a matter of thinking too much; that I have a 2nd home & traveled to my always-1st home gives me plenty of material to compare & contrast. I decided to compile a list of most of these thoughts for your reading pleasure. Maybe this will help someone who is thinking about expatriation or, like me, has already expatriated and grapples with the many emotions & thoughts & feelings that come with it. (Here’s a semi-amusing link re: expatriation.)
1. Maybe I’m stronger than I thought I was. I’ve stated on this blog, and in real life, many times that moving is not for the faint of heart & spirit. This is especially true if you’re moving solo. You’re hundreds or thousands of miles/kilometers away from your loved ones & friends. It becomes harder to visit your homeland because of distance & finance. Culture shock can be painful – different foods, possibly a different language, different customs/norms/mores, etc. It’s easy for good old-fashioned homesickness to set in. (My co-worker, with whom I’ve become very close, succumbed to homesickness. He & his wife are returning to the States in the beginning of February. Possible blog entry about it later.) Anyone who can make it at least 6 months in a foreign land without packing up all one’s shit & returning to the comforts of home(land) is a damn strong person. For those of you who’ve done it, you deserve a toast and so much more.
2. Although there are some things that I miss about my 1st home that’ll always be authentic to it, I saw that I haven’t missed much of anything. The old neighborhood looks the same. Many people are doing the same things they did (if anything at all) before my departure. There’s a lot that remains stagnant. Hopefully this realisation will help me to refrain from being stagnant.
Having been on my own for some time, I’m used to solitude. My home, no matter where it is, is my sanctuary. I crashed with my (youngest) aunt & uncle & cousin, and their home is usually quiet. A few days before returning to England, however, my oldest aunt surprised me by visiting from the South because she wanted to see me before my departure. Oldest aunt tends to turn things up at least 10 notches when she’s in town….. including and not limited to noise levels. She prefers constant movement, while I prefer serenity & solitude. So although I love my oldest aunt, I can do without the noise.
In addition, I’m the only woman in my immediate family with only brothers & male cousins. Being the only girl has its perks, but it can also be a pain in the ass. Over-protection, attempting to dictate my life, etc….. Sometimes I have to remind my family that I’m ___ years old and not 15, and doing that can be difficult sometimes. I’m getting better at it in my old age.
Moral of the story: I love my family. I also love having a 2nd home to return to.
4. I hate to say this at my age, but it still rings true for me: I think I’ve learned who my real friends are. Not all of them keep in touch with me as much as my 2 or 3 closest friends in the entire world, nor do they know every single thing about me like my 2 or 3 closest friends; however, while I was in town these folks made efforts to see me. They asked me genuine questions about my experience as opposed to asking about the parties I’ve attended (less than the amount of fingers on 1 hand), dating/relationships with men & how many gentlemen callers I have (*laughs*), and if I’ve shagged any men (*laughs*). The acquaintances/associates revealed themselves even more than before my departure; I know where I stand with them, yet it’s all good. Some people are in our lives for a season, and others are in our lives no matter the reason or the season.
5. American fast food is gross, and I don’t just mean in terms of taste. American fast food has so many chemicals & other synthetic products. I needed pocket change to ride public transportation, so I bought some Burger King fries to get change. I ate 1 fry and it was disgusting; I threw out the rest of them. I can definitely tell the difference. (This is not a pronouncement to eat fast food overseas all the time, nor am I saying that all overseas fast food is healthy.) The only fast food I ate was Wendy’s (once) because Wendy’s doesn’t exist here (that I know of).
6. I’m even prouder to be a New Yorker. There’s just something about New York City for me….. I can’t fully put what it is into words; it just is. I don’t think I could be from anywhere else. I also have a stronger love for my borough – like anywhere else, it’s imperfect & flawed, but it’s like no other in the world.
My thoughts are many….. too many. Part 2 coming soon.