I’ve been away from home for years now. Holidays spent in different languages, continents, and lost on public transportation have proven to be a pattern that I never intended to set, but I gladly continued as my desire for adventure deepened. Yet I can only be away from home for so long before I clearly recognize the time to return to family.
I’ll be back this February to visit our new home which now sits in one of those neighborhood developments with the matching beige and brown combo siding.
Welcome home, will be the words sharpied out in my Dad’s handwriting on a white poster board from Target. Ohh how I’ve missed my Dad, and ohh how I’ve missed Target. I’ll be full with excitement to taste the familiarity again- to hold my mother tightly and sit on our comfy recliner scattered with dog hair and stains that act as little reminders of my favorite glitter nail polish in the third grade.
But I’ve done this before, I’ve returned home after a long period away. It wasn’t easy. I was desperately happy to see my family and return home, yet it all felt surreal. The familiar life that I craved, oddly enough, seemed like a staged cardboard set that could be blown away by the next gust of wind. It all seemed foreign. I was cast in a play but had forgotten my lines. It was anything but the comfort I had expected.
When you travel as much as I do, home is dispersed in various family members, friends, park benches, and bakeries around the world. Calling one place home seems insincere and, quite frankly, just a lie. There is a scattered sense of belonging in traveling that makes every place a shred of home, but there is also a scattered sense of disbelonging even in the places meant to be your own.
Feeling like a stranger in a land that your whole life you’ve claimed to be yours is a harrowing experience, but one I consciously chose and will continue to choose again until I find it’s time for a different kind of adventure- one that possibly involves staying.