Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Are you coming back home?

Before the question was when are you coming back home.  Now it's are.  The real problem is I don't know the answer.  I mean, I do.  But then again, I don't.  Not at all.  You see, this is the problem with traveling, with moving, with settling in, with molding to a new place.  You get stuck. 

Nearly six years ago I left the United States to live in a foreign country.  I was 19 years old.  When I got back I was lost.  Completely.  I didn't know how to act, how to talk, what to say, who to be.  My life had been so flipped up and over that coming home, was more like going overseas.  My mom has told me that if she had known how lost I would have been coming home, she never would have let me leave.  I wonder if I'm stepping into the same boat again.

My first stint overseas lasted only eight months.  Eight months.  I've been living in France for 15 months.  When I step on that plane, I will not have seen American soil for 18 months.  Am I ready?  Hell no.  I know when my feet hit that spangled ground, I will be lost. 

The dilemma of every expat is where do I belong?  I mean, really, you're not American anymore.  You're not French, either.  Or Spanish, or Albanian, or Chinese.  No matter where you have been, you just don't truly belong anywhere anymore.

Perhaps that's where my security lies.  If I don't technically belong anywhere, can I belong everywhere?  After so many months here in Paris, foreign doesn't seem so foreign, anymore, and that gives me some hope.  If my experience and worldview has been expanded and morphed to include so many viewpoints, maybe that just means my community got that much bigger.  And maybe, just maybe, I'm not so stuck as I think I am. 

But I fear.  I fear the isolation that always comes when you're not sure those around you can understand you.  Isolation is the worst part of living in a foreign land.  After so many months here, and so many months of isolation, I feel like I have finally created a community here.  And this is why I question whether I really know the answer to the question, "Are you coming back home?"  Community is the air that keeps my lungs filled and the nourishment that keeps me strong.  I have community here.  I found it, I created it, I fought for it.  My tears, my fears, my sweat, my stumbles, all of it, got me to this place where I have a community.  Dammit, it matters to me.  These people matter to me.  I fought for them.  And I'm going to leave in four months? 

How strong is my heart?  I know I can move back, start over, create and sweat and cry and build, all over again.  The question is whether I want to.  Like I said, you get stuck.