Coming Home

Thursday, April 4, 2013

It's been almost two full years since I left Budapest.

Two years. 

I never really understood 'time flies' until recently. I've been watching kids I babysat for grow into amazing little people who I can have honest and thought-provoking conversations with. I've watched my five year high school reunion come and go (and have started dreading looking forward to the ten year reunion this year). Then I watched my five year college reunion come and go. I've watched friends get married and my best friend have a sweet little baby boy. 

I've done things, been places, made new friendships, and grown more solid in old ones. I've been having quite an amazing and eventful life. I honestly couldn't feel more blessed in where I'm at and who I've become.

But, it's been two years since I returned home from Budapest, Hungary. And while some days it feels like it was yesterday, some days it feels like it was a lifetime ago. It was an amazing, exciting, and whirlwind period of my life. 

What's most important though, is that I'm not the same girl I was before. Living abroad does that to you. Heck, moving somewhere else across the country does that to you too. It changes how you see things and how you interact with people. It shows you that things aren't exactly the same way here that they are elsewhere. It makes you realized that there is so much amazing out in the world. It's eye-opening and thrilling and scary and wonderful.

Coming home, though? 

That's tough. Because things are not quite as you left them. People have changed in your absence. Your home may have been remodeled a little, habits of friends or family may have changed, and life isn't just how you remembered. Because you have changed too.  

And what I've realized in two years is that coming home is a process. You can't just slip back into your old life and expect it to fit like a favorite pair of jeans. Because you've changed so much. You've grown and developed and become so much more of yourself than you were before. You may look like the old you, but inside you're blooming and changing and evaluating everything you've ever known with fresh eyes.

And this process of coming home doesn't seem to be a process that necessarily gets easier with time. 

When you first get home people want to hear everything and see every picture that you took overseas. They want to be wowed with beautiful stories of fancy castles and delicious dinners. They want to hear about the people you met and where you lived and how is it to live somewhere that's not here? They want to live their lives vicariously through you for just a moment.

And on their terms.

And then there comes a point where those people have heard enough and they want to get back to living in their (and now your) present. They want to talk about the things and the people here. Back to the common experiences and the things that make sense.

And you? You're still not done with the there. And the things going on here and now don't make sense to you any more than your trips make sense to them.  

Because it was a time and a place that changed your life

So, whenever you bring it up that place (your other, previous overseas life) in a conversation you may get that eye roll from a friend. Or the slight smile that seems to say 'you don't live there anymore, get over it. And it will manifest itself in many little other ways. 

And at some point it will start to hurt a little. You'll feel slighted that you can't talk about an experience you had that's relevant to a conversation just because it happened while you weren't here. You bottle up your experiences and hold them tight within your heart. And you start to think about how coming home  is the hardest thing you've ever done. Because no one gets it.

But here's the thing: some people do get it. Because they've done that too. They've gone away as someone and come home again as someone new. There are people out there who will listen when you tell your stories, or even ask you for a new one. There are people that you can talk to about how different life is when you make your way back home. You just have to find them.

Because? Some people will never get it. 

You have to have left in order to come back. And until you've done that you will never know or understand how it feels to live your life outside the things you have always known. And until you've left, you will never understand how it feels to come home.

Coming home? 

Yeah, it's hard.

Two years later and it's still hard.

But I wouldn't trade being able to come home for anything in the world.


  1. THIS is exactly what I am trying to have people understand and understand myself. There's a tendency to cling to that life you had before because it was something so different than the life you left at home. I have to keep myself from mentioning Korea in every breath because I know it gets old quickly. But it is nice to come home, even if you and everyone else are the not same people as when you left. I have thought about writing something similar on my blog soon, and I hope it will help people to understand that I need their help as much as they need mine to make the transition of coming home easier for everyone. Thanks again for a great blog post!

  2. Oh wow. I can so relate to this post and you said it so beautifully. I always feel like I should hold back stories about where I used to live or travel to because I don't want to sound like I don't love where I am now, or even worse like I'm trying to brag. I think coming home is so much harder than leaving. You don't expect "home" to feel unfamiliar. And it's awkward and uncomfortable and things don't quite fit and you're so right- people don't get it. But I am so with ya!

  3. Yes.

    Just a few days ago someone I only recently met asked me, 'Aren't you so glad to be back?" Then I think they notice my hesitation in answering and they rephrase. And I stammer and stutter and say yes of course, because sometimes that is just easier than giving them a peek inside my very complicated emotional brain.

    I get it. Truly I do. I am not the same and I've kinda quit trying to be the person I was and I'm finally feeling more peace.

  4. When I got home from China, I remember wanting to share everything about the experience with my parents and now ex-boyfriend. They lasted about 10 minutes in the car before they were bored and it hurt me to pieces that they weren't as excited about it all as I was. I think human nature partially dictates that we shut down a little with the things that we don't understand or are foreign to us (no pun intended). You just put all of my emotions into the most perfect of words, my friend.


Thank you all so much for your comments! I'm only happy when I have comments. Really. You are contributing to my future happiness right now! XOXO