As holidays roll around once again, I find myself growing more and more homesick, one of the hardest things to grapple with as a traveler and an expat. Slightly envious of those who are going home to see their families for the holidays, I continue to explore and work through my feelings towards the transient way of life I have chosen to lead.
The obvious beauty of travel for me is going out into the unknown and experiencing all things new. New food, new language, new ways of thinking, new attitudes toward living. The rush and joy come from stepping out of your comfort zone. And as I master Spanish and become accustomed to the way things work here, there is another rush that comes from that sense of accomplishment. When I think about all of these things I absolutely swear up and down that the expat way of life is for me, and that I can’t imagine going back to life in the United States.
Obviously, you never know. People change and grow over time and so where I’ll be in a few years, I have no idea. Maybe it’ll be back in the States, maybe it’ll be in some far flung country. But I’m growing to accept that idea of these masses of blank pages that have yet to be written, as much anxiety as that can give me sometimes. I actually find it kind of funny this internal paradox I have going, that almost insatiable desire to keep traveling and explore the unknown versus an almost obsessive need to control and know everything that is going on in my life. I guess that would actually explain my unrelenting attempting to control the smaller things I can happening in my life, to make up for the fact that I have little to no idea about what’s going to happen in the bigger picture of my life.
In any case. Transience. Part of homesickness stems from an urge for the more stable or rooted aspects of the life I’ve left behind. While I am enjoying my city and so appreciative of my new friends here, once in a while I can’t help but yearn to be with those people who have known me for years, to be in the home that I grew up in, to not have to explain myself, to not have to try to understand why on earth people do something in a way that makes no sense to me (though that happens everywhere, home country or not!).
This leads to one of the most difficult things to deal with as a traveler leading a transitory life: relationships. Both friendship and romantic. As travelers, we come and go out of other people’s lives. There is no permanence or rootedness that we can assuredly give to the relationships we begin to form in our new but temporary home country. And so it very much makes sense that we begin to crave those relationships we’ve had with people for years back in our native homes. And it also makes it that much harder to attempt to replicate those relationships when you don’t have years to do it, and even to maintain those relationships you just began to develop but then had to leave a few months later as you start your next journey.
As all of this hits me, I begin once again to have an incredible urge to establish roots and find my new home country from which I can base my trips, as opposed to hopping around year to year. When I think of the fact that this is my second home in my second year, that I haven’t lived in New York for a year and a half already, and that I probably won’t go back in the near future, it blows me away. To be completely honest, I’m beginning to tire of this transience. While it’s exciting and new, it can soon become old, and in some ways a detriment…holding us back from getting too involved in something that maybe in reality we do want to get further involved in.
I have no answer for myself or for my readers here. It’s just a general musing. But forming these new found relationships in my life when I’m not sure what my next step is, is a challenge. In the blink of an eye, before having a chance to really establish that sense of rootedness or connection, it’s time to go again.
Maybe most of this is stemming from the upcoming holidays and knowing I won’t be home to celebrate with the family for the second year in a row. But this is part of being a traveler, isn’t it? Sounds absurd, but I didn’t really realize how much courage and patience and perseverance it takes to be a traveler, to be an expat. It’s not an easy thing to do. But, as difficult as it can be at times, I have no regrets, and I’m grateful for these experiences.