I’ve decided that feeling homesick for the life you led before being an expat is kind of like looking back on old relationships—we’re prone to only focusing on the good memories and ignoring all the reasons why we left which makes us sentimental for something that never existed.
Today I decided to take a day of rest, a true and genuine day off. No looking at scholarship information, no researching graduate programs or income taxes and no lesson planning. Instead, I decided to load up my computer with a ton of television shows and just veg out on my wicker furniture drinking too many cups of tea and coffee and thumbing through the fashion magazines sent in my most recent care package from the States (Thanks Arizona and Becca).
It’s not exactly the kind of day that you expect to result in tears, and yet here I am wiping away the remains of them from my cheeks. Maybe it’s because I’m tired from a very hectic week, or maybe it’s because I’m in the throes of PMS, who knows. What I do know is that watching a Christmas episode of a no-brains-needed-just-sit-back-and-enjoy-the-thoughtless-humor sitcom left me feeling homesick at a time when I thought I was finally settled into my current lifestyle.
At the end of the episode a group of friends go to a neighborhood where the residents are known for their over-the-top Christmas decorations. In order to cheer up a friend, the group packs into a junky car and rides to the neighborhood in the middle of the night to see the ridiculously tacky show of lights. As I watched it a rush of similar memories of years past with friends and family flooded my brain and while at first, I was laughing at the show, I suddenly found myself tearing up. Then I felt my eyebrows furrowing and my chest tightening and my shoulders starting to rise and before I knew it, I was in the midst of an all-out sobfest.
I thought I’d already made my peace with not having a traditional Christmas months ago, when I realized that if I wanted to explore Indonesia I’d have to give up going home for the holidays. When I learned that the price of a plane ticket to Michigan would cost twice as much as an adventure across Java and Bali. I mean, I spent my Christmas break seeing some of the most incredible temples in the world, surfing in the Indian Ocean, laying on black sand beaches, eating seafood and dancing in tropical breezes. It was incredible, I wouldn’t take back the experience nor the friends I made along the way for anything.
But that’s the thing about being in a part of the world where very few of your traditions are shared by the locals, sometimes the wonderful memories of home sneak up on you and no matter how well-adjusted you might think you are or how incredible your current out-of-country experiences might be, just like that ex-boyfriend (who you obviously left for a reason), you just can’t help but miss it.