What It's Like
When we first moved here five months ago, I considered how different things would be and how different I would feel when I finally did get the opportunity to travel the 7, 431 miles back to my hometown where both my family and my husband's family both live. However what I have experienced from making that trip over Christmas is a whole host of emotions. From elation to seeing my family waiting for me in the airport, to disappointment in the realization that life does still, indeed, go on without you in other people's lives as well as your own hometown, to the quiet little spot of happiness of waking up before dawn and hearing the familiar Southern sound of train whistles in the night.
More on all that later.
First, I was sure to take a load of photos to remind me of the little things that I enjoy from my hometown that i didn't really pay much attention to before because, as many people, you get used to the place and start looking for things to criticize instead. So here you go, some photos that captured our trip back home:
Breakfast of Champions at the Manchester Airport at 6:00 am local time. We were just so excited to see cheap beer...uh...I mean...apple..juice? And yes, I said cheap AIRPORT apple juice. That should tell you how expensive the apples are here.
Have I mentioned that I have absolutely debilitating plane anxiety? It's awful. I swear that the plane is always going down for one reason or another. Just planes...flying..it seems so ridiculous to me. And why does it have to be so high up? Why?? Terrifying. I usually have to dilute all my senses with podcasts and eyeshades and/or drown my anxieties in reruns of Modern Family on the in flight entertainment system. The turbulence was SO BAD flying back to London that even the flight attendants looked a little shaken and I always look to them to see if they have fear in their eyes. If they're still handing out little bottles of wine and pillows, you're fine. If they're looking at one another with questioning looks, well....I'll let you figure that one out. Also, you must be wondering..how did you take this photo? Well, I'll tell you. There was not one ounce of turbulence from Manchester, U.K. to Chicago, USA so I took a photo. When there is turbulence, I'm usually the one crying. Not joking. Crying. I'm an adult.
Justin and I spent the break with Jude! We heard his weirdo stories and spent the night at the lake house and just ultimately spent time with this kid who is growing swiftly into just that, a kid. No more toddler here. He got to spend a lot of time with our families and he seemed pretty excited about unwrapping presents rather than the actual present itself. Hah! Also, every present was "the best in my life" so he's not too difficult to please. I don't think it'll last long. Hah! Hello pre-teen years and Christmas lists with Playstation 8.
My sister! I missed her so much and it was so weird seeing her in, like, real life. I'm so used to sending pictures back and forth to my sister and to my mom that it was such a strange experience being back in my mom's house and actually being able to talk to them in real time and see their face and hear their voice. I really, really missed it. I missed the crazy house full of people and all the noise and I also missed my sweet Murphy.
My Murphy is the sweetest little furry snuggle animal in the world. I love him like the furry baby that he is and we snuggled the whole time (as seen above). I wanted to stuff him in my bag and carry him home so he could continue to snuggle with me for five months straight in Doha.
I delighted in driving myself places on my own! Whew! I didn't have to sit in traffic for thirty minutes and then charge myself 15 bucks. It was sweet. Although, I do have to say that our friend and driver here in Doha is the best at driving on these crazy streets and I don't trust anyone nearly as much as I trust him to get us around safely. Also, he charges a pretty good price.
I was really delighting in all the colors. So much green!
And all the monochromes. And the rain. It rained nearly the entire time we were there. It happened on purpose, I'm sure.
Okay, so now that you've seen all the wonderful pics know that I did not cry when being dropped off at the airport by my mom and neither did she. It was a different type of leaving. It wasn't one filled with nervousness and mystery. I knew we were coming back to our apartment, my job, our friends, a place we knew, etc. We knew we could handle the amount of time we'll be gone because it's just a month and a half more than the time we've already spent here.
However, that's not to say that I felt that way when we did finally get home. I was happy to see people and take a shower and be back in my apartment, sure. I was rather bemoaning my being back and missing my family and things that were so much more familiar it just hurt. The things that are taken away from you when you come back to a foreign country can sometimes be so frustrating and so exhausting, it takes the wind out of your expat sails.
Now after voicing these concerns with Justin and a couple of friends, the consensus was clear. I know that Justin and I wont once more live in our hometown so there will always be a small feeling of loss as I'll never live right down the street from my family again. it's how you handle this loss and how you pay attention to the present. So basically, remain present. Take what you can from this time here. You may never have it again. Sure you'll be able to drive yourself to Target in twenty minutes one day but pay attention to the now. Pay attention to how you have to walk 30 minutes through construction and desert to get to the grocery store, to how crazy the drivers are, to how you are learning so much about someone else's culture, etc.
Those types of things that are so swiftly moving through time that you actually have to stop and think about it so you can catalog away as many little pieces as you can.
So, if anything, this trip back home really served to remind me to be thankful on both ends. Be thankful that I have a place to call a hometown and my family, a home base. To be excited both those rights you can take for granted in America (this is uncharacteristically patriotic sounding) and to be enthralled by the people in your life that mean so much to you.
It also has served to remind me to be thoughtful of this time here. That we wont be here forever and it will go by so fast. We've already been gone for five months and only have 5 1/2 months left of this school year. That's gone by quickly! We will no longer have the call to prayer reminding us of exactly where we are, the spicy and sweet smells of souk that remind me so much of the medinas in Morocco and the people we have met here that are so, so special to us.
So, to have some balance here are some photos of this whacky place.
So as I write this I know that no matter where I live, I know a place where I can call home because I know that I'm not one to ignore the call to travel. As another blogger stated, "the road is where we belong. And because of that, our gaze will always be on the horizon, looking, dreaming, and wishing for another opportunity to get out there".
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