Here’s the thing: I didn’t know what to expect when I came home. I wasn’t sure what it would feel like or look like or any of those five senses and that was as scary as people seem to think leaving home is.
Leaving home, for me, has never been the scary part. (Except for that week that I went to Moose Jaw to stay with my cousins for a week. I remember wanting to go home that week, but then I made a sock monkey and slept in my cousin’s bed and everything was alright.) Anything from weeks away at summer camp to six weeks in Quebec during the summer when I was 16 to moving to Ontario after graduation have always been the easy parts for me. It’s the coming home part that always scares me a little.
You’re probably reading that and squinting at it a little bit. I don’t really blame you. As I’ve thought about it (and trust me: I have. In that slightly obsessive way that I do.), I’ve come up with this: When you’re heading into the unknown, you’re unsurprised when it feels strange and different. Whereas, when you come back to something, it’s always different than when you left it and that always makes me feel nervous.
People say that ‘time flies by’ and it’s a zipping arrow. You see it whiz by and it’s gone and there is nothing you can do about it. That progression from seconds to minutes to hours to days, weeks to months to years starts out looking like it’ll take ‘for freaking ever’ but, spoiler alert: it doesn’t. And before you know it, you’ve travelled and been and met and seen and done and touched and tasted and heard and felt and and and andandand….and then you come home
Your cells have shedded from every part of your body and you are, quite literally, a different person than when you left. There are the physical changes. For me it was longer, blonder hair, I was more tanned. Then the small things that no one can notice at first glance and the nervousness of, “What if they don’t like the changes?” That’s kind of a big, important thing because these people you’re coming home to? They matter. They matter so, so much.
Then comes the realization that, of course you clued in on while you were away but Skype and photos are different, and these are also not the same people you saw before. Their cells have shedded and their hair has grown and they’ve tanned and that three year old is now a five year old and is in kindergarten and that seven year old is now nine and probably the sweetest thing this side of a lollipop while his older brother is dealing with displacement and doesn’t quite understand how to do that because he doesn’t do feelings and oh boy puberty has definitely hit that almost 6″ monster you used to call your little brother.
And they have to deal with you. You being back and physical and taking up space and in the same timezone. You are once again a physical presence and that changes things. That changes things in a big way and brings up all these feelings people never knew they had. Because they had to adjust like you did when you left and now you’re all adjusting to you being back and it’s great and it’s wonderful but it’s also change, so it’s strange and it’s different and it’s kind of weird.
Coming home didn’t feel like I thought it would. There was no ‘then’ and ‘now’, no defined mark. One day I was in Spain and the next I was in Canada and a week later I was at a new job. It was weird. There was no slow down period. I didn’t see one of my sisters until almost a month after I’d been back and it was at her white coat ceremony (aka: where they say she’s on her way to become a doctor yay!) and because of how things worked out that day, I spent the ceremony at the back of the audience trying to keep my shit together only to fall apart later because: holy crap. Life moved on and I wasn’t a part of it.
So naturally that hit in full force right after her ceremony in front of family and friends I didn’t know existed because I have the timing of a champ like that. But that stuck with me, for weeks. (It still lingers.)
That realization that, I didn’t really fit in with my family the same way I used to. I’d left and there was a space and as time went on, they fit themselves around that, filled that in in various ways. The fact that I’m now a 9 hour drive away from the majority of my family means that that stays gap-y and kind of weird and there. Which is life and how it is and not in a depressing ‘forever kicked out’ type of way but rather, ‘slowly work in being back home’ kind of way.
Because two years is a long time, even though, when you’re going through it, it doesn’t feel like it. It feels like just one day, and another, and one more until they accumulate and you have all these days leading to an end point where what you once knew is no longer there the way it once was and it might take some time, but, just like how different cultures and languages and customs aren’t bad, neither is this change. It’s just different.
I mean really: it’s kind of like all those adventures you went on before, where you dove in head first and lived on the edge of your seat and learned all those new things. So really, coming home is as much of an adventure as leaving was, if you want it to be.
Things I’m Loving: