I remember when one of my roommates got back from studying abroad in Australia. Our relationship suffered because I didn’t understand how fragile she was emotionally. And, I guess if you’ve never been away from home in that way, it’s hard to understand. So, I don’t blame myself really.
I just wanted my friend back. And me? Well, nothing had changed. I was going to school, working, partying. It was great and all, but it was the same old routine. It’s a lousy comparison to three months spent overseas, embracing new people and places, finding comfort in the uncomfortable.
It was weird, my first night home. I was happy to see my parents and my dog. I was excited to turn on my phone. But, I also felt anxious and confused. Felt conflicted. What am I doing here? Someone take me back. Wait I want to stay here forever. Mom, don’t let me leave.
They call it reverse culture shock: a common reaction to returning home. An emotional and psychological readjustment. Sounded like bullshit to me. (So did Rancho, so I think that’s my issue). I don’t know if I’ll be able to explain it. But, I’ll give it a try.
It’s been good and it’s been not so good. I didn’t expect for anyone to sit around and ask for every little detail about my experience. But, I guess it’s surprising who takes the conversation further than a half-hearted “how was it?” It made the disconnect I already felt feel wider. And now that I’m going back for five months, I guess a part of me is wondering what I’ll find when I come home for good.
But, it’s been incredible the past two weeks catching up with the people I missed most. There’s nothing like a good friend. And I truly believe it’s the people that you don’t need to see or talk to every day, but who make the small effort to preserve a relationship that make the difference in our lives. I am so grateful for these people.
Felt so good getting back into the car and driving around, especially with my pup. My first day home I spent the day exactly how I used to spend a day off: working out, running errands, walking around the city. It’s been warm for this time of year in Boston, but the weather is crisp and it felt good to throw on a jacket again. There’s nothing wrong with routine. And I miss that the most sometimes.
But, it’s only been two weeks and I’m itching to get back on the road. And that’s probably because I’m not even close to the end of this thing. There is so much potential within the next five months, and that makes it difficult to sit at home without being a little restless.
One second I can’t sleep from anxiety, the next I’m sitting on my phone making plans for Friday night like nothing ever changed. It makes it hard to navigate exactly how this whole reverse culture shock thing works. I don’t think I’ll really be able to understand it until I’m looking in retrospect. I’m excited for Christmas with my family. I’m happy to see my girlfriends from college and hear about their latest endeavors. I’m so unbelievably comfortable right now sitting in Starbucks, drinking my coffee, knowing I’ll probably be here all day.
But, I’m also full of anxiety. Wondering what I’m doing. What will I be doing. I’m sad because someone I was really looking forward to seeing is no longer interested. Said it’s because I’m leaving again and I guess that makes sense. Kind of hard to continue a relationship with someone when you’re off the map half the time.
So, yeah that’s where I’m at. Take things as they come and try to embrace it all. I’m right in the middle of it now. I am living it up. And trust me, it feels as great as it sounds.
And most likely the next time you hear from me I’ll be in Bangkok, Thailand. Let me say that one more time:
Bangkok freakin’ Thailand.
See you there.