One of the most bizarre things about expat life is taking trips back to your home town, and being on vacation while everyone else is living the life you used to live as well. Maybe in larger cities it isn’t as strange, but in small town Connecticut, it isn’t like there are tons of people wandering around on weekdays to socialize with, and it takes a while to check back in to the things you were so used to before (dollar bills, driving on the right, leaving a tip). Both of my sisters were home, as they were finishing/done with school for the semester, so we had some great family bonding time as well, including a day trip to my favorite place, block island.
I made sure to eat as many of my favorite foods as I could, lobster rolls, Mexican food, clam chowder, craft beers (not a food but still counts) and streaky bacon.
Luckily, on this past trip home, the occasion was a wedding of one of my good friends, and my former roommate when we went abroad in South Africa, so plenty of friends were around and the other wedding party members had taken long weekends as well for the celebrations. I managed to squeeze in brunches and lunches with good friends and family and over all it was fantastic to see everyone and a great time. Email, FaceTime and messaging have kept me in touch with family and friends pretty well, and the best thing about good friends is that you can pick up where you left off and there’s no awkwardness.
The two most popular questions I got were “where exactly do you live?” And “have you made friends?” The first I’m used to, small town New England is full of places no one has heard of, and I think only two people (one of whom is also an expat in the UK) had ever heard of the Lake District. So, I just tell people it’s north. Very north. and not near London. North of Manchester, if you know where that is. Of course in the UK, my description of where I’m from is generally halfway between New York and Boston, since Connecticut isn’t a well known place.
The second was confusing at first, of course I had made friends, I couldn’t possibly spend all my time alone! But I realized that the fear of not making friends was what kept a lot of people from moving away.
Leaving “home” even after a short visit never seems to get easier. It’s so refreshing and rejuvenating to visit but painful to leave. But this time, when the plane touched down in Manchester I felt like I had arrived home. So that’s progress, maybe I have two places to call home instead of none.
What do you do on your visits “home”?