After 25 days in the US and 4 days in France, I've finally returned home. Home to Kevin. Because Holland doesn't quite feel homey yet. It's becoming familiar in a comfortable sort of way, but it's not home yet.
Home is that place you feel at rest. When you walk into Home, you're wrapped in comfort and warmed by intimate understanding. You're rested. Loved. At peace. Soothed. Cared for. Understood and also full of knowledge. You feel ownership and a sense of pride. You know the embarrassing secrets and the age-old legends. You appreciate the quirks and call the decrepitness 'character'.
That is home.
When I walked into the Greenville/Spartanburg Airport on August 30th I expected all of these feelings in a rush of homesick happiness.
But it never happened.
I didn't feel at home. After three months of longing and waiting to touch the ground of my homeland, I was shocked to realize that Greenville no longer felt like home. I knew those roads. I have thousands of memories blanketing every street, cafe, sidewalk, grocery store, and shopping center. I know the embarrassing secrets and age-old legends. I am proud of what it's becoming. I understand those old, crumbling buildings full of character and unique stories. I love that city.
Yet somehow in the past three months, the emotion has seeped away. The passion for my old city has left. After spending the last month working through the realization that my childhood home no longer felt like home, I've realized a few important things:
1) Greenville is no longer my home.
Yes I love the city I was born and raised and married and settled in. I think everyone that has the choice should move there. I love the South and miss the charm it holds. For now (and hopefully the next 3ish years) though, Holland is my home. And even more than that, Kevin is my home. With him I feel comfort, rest, love, safe, understood and understanding, at peace, and cared for. Where he is, I am home.
2) It's important to embrace my new surroundings in every way.
As an expat it becomes almost a subconscious practice to compare old home to new home. It's not something I mean to do or even think about as I'm doing it. It's a part of my daily thoughts. "This would be so much cheaper in Greenville." "I had clients in Greenville." "Greenville is so much warmer." "There's so much more sun back home." "I miss driving a car." "I miss when it only took five minutes to drive 2 miles." "In the US I wouldn't have to deal with snobby **** who refused talk to me in English because they know three languages because they grew up in a country the size of Alabama that happens to be bordered by two other countries that speak other languages" (I know...that last one was more of a rant...and also less subconscious...).
I am now ready to tackle the whole subconscious comparing thing (and the conscious comparing thing). I only have three years here and I want to live them to the fullest.
3) Who even gets to experience this stuff?! I'm so lucky!
That last one has been said to me countless times, but I'm only just starting to feel it. Yes living in a new country is difficult. Yes it's frustrating not to know the language. Yes it's way more expensive and I have to start over with my job.
But I get to live in AMSTERDAM!
Remembering the awesome gift I've been given in living in this gorgeous city so close to other gorgeous cities is overwhelming. While other people get to vacation in my city, I get to LIVE here. How lucky am I?!
So I know this post wasn't as detail-filled as some of you may have hoped, but this post has been developing in my mind for quite some time. Before I shared anything else it was important for me to verbalize this new understanding.
I'll end with this:
Enjoy the home you have now. Enjoy the family and/or friends who surround you. Enjoy the nuances of daily life. Find one thing to be fully, overwhelmingly, and unconditionally thankful for. Be at peace with your current home, whoever or wherever that may be, and rest in the fact that you are there at this time for a specific purpose.