Coming home from living over seas sounds like the greatest thing. It’s nothing but sushi, and cheese, and the best of friends – day in and day out. You can go to Target whenever you please (unless you live in Canada, where they took away that liberty) and have a million different options available at your fingertips when visiting the grocery store. It sounds like a dream. And then you get home.
I will admit, the first few days back are as close as one can get to walking on clouds. You get to drive on paved roads, stop for a quick coffee, or even go through a drive thru. Your internet finally works at a normal speed, and you can call your friends and family whenever you want AND be in a similar time zone. You get to sleep in your own bed and take a hot shower that you very likely will never want to get out of. But then real life starts.
Suddenly, everything is overwhelming. The various choices at the grocery store now seem like too many options. A simple decision of where to go soon seems like having to make a major life choice. You frustrate people with your indecisiveness and you are paralyzed with the anxiety of having to make the choice or disappoint those around you. Even the smallest things seem bigger than anything you’ve ever experienced, and you feel as though you won’t ever be able to chose between two options ever again. And even worse, no one understands.
Not only that, but all those friends that you’re SO excited to see have moved on with their lives. Shocker, the world didn’t stop while you were gone. This place you called home for a significant amount of time is apparently not Narnia, and life does not simple pause when you get on an intercontinental flight. You are suddenly without the support system you have come to know, and you feel like everyone is nearing the finish-line of the race and you’ve barely left the starting blocks.
Everyone will tell you your adventures have been so exciting and they can’t wait to hear more stories. But really, that just makes you want to crawl back into a hole. While you absolutely adore them [and their supportive words are invaluable], you suddenly don’t know what to do with all of it. How do you share the stories that were your life for such a long time, knowing that you won’t be able to do them justice? How do you explain a different country and culture and society that has become your home with only words and a few pictures?
Now friends, this is not to say you should stop asking. Please don’t take this to mean that we don’t want to share what has been our life for so long with you. Just please be patient with us if we change the subject or stumble over our words or ramble about things that seem rather irrelevant. We will probably reach a time where these stories will flow more easily and we will feel at a place where we can properly convey our feelings – that time might just not be quite yet. But please, keep asking us these questions and showing us that you care. Somehow in the mess of our brain that still means the world to us.
All of a sudden, your days are unproductive, you procrastinate more than normal, and you bury yourself into an unnecessary amount of Netflix, because honestly, it requires little thinking. You’re still slightly amazed by the fast internet speed, and you sequester yourself in your room and only venture out if you know no one is around. You beat yourself up because you felt infinitely more productive and useful living across the ocean and suddenly you feel like you have no purpose. Each day is Groundhog Day, and wake up each morning hoping that coffee will make life seem normal again. And it kind of does.
But this, too, shall pass. Somehow we will continue to get up each day, drink that cup of coffee, and try again. At some time these decisions will become easier, or possibly just doable. I, personally, don’t know when that day will come. I wish I had the magic formula that made me feel just an ounce of normal in these now foreign “home”. I don’t even really know what steps it will take to get there, so for now I distract myself with school, and travel, and lots of Netflix, hoping that I’ll feel normal again. Like I’m productive, or useful, or needed here.
I wish I had answers. I wish I could explain how I’m feeling to the people around me who so desperately want to break into the shell I’ve constructed. All I can say is: please be patient. Give us a little time and space, but don’t give up on us. One day we can meet at Starbucks and we won’t feel overwhelmed by the infinite choices of lattes and frappacinos and iced coffee and… To be honest, we’d probably be fine if you showed up at our door with a bottle of wine and a plan to watch too many episodes of Suits on Netflix.
One day we’ll understand what it means to live life far away from the place that holds our heart. But that day is not today, so for now life simply looks like, “Play Next Episode”.