Why Can’t You Go Home Again?
"You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time — back home to the escapes of Time and Memory." Thomas Wolfe
Living in an unfamiliar place with different smells, tastes, and rhythms can be a jarring experience. Dislocated is a good term for what I was experiencing in my new environment --except I was in my hometown, feeling like a stranger. My family had just returned from a nine month stay in Barcelona, Spain, where our daughters attended public school and my husband did a research project at the University. We fell in love with Barcelona with all its beauty, culture, and bakeries.
I was unprepared for the reverse culture shock that I felt when we returned to our home in Sacramento. This was more than a post-travel funk. Things back at home were both bigger and smaller, brighter and duller. It was a little like being Alice in Wonderland, never knowing what to expect. I was missing the siestas and leisurely lunches with the whole family. Now our family life became more fragmented and hectic, as we moved back into our jobs and schools.
Friends welcomed us back, of course, but only a few seemed interested in hearing many details of our adventures in Spain. Just as we had changed and grown in our time away, our friends had too. We had to find new common ground. Some friendships withered away, others grew stronger. After a few stressful months, I gradually found my new groove – and a new me that included Barcelona as one of my homes.
Kat, I wish you an easy transition back to the U.S – your self awareness and maturity should make for a smooth re-entry!
[Today's letter is from Gina, author of the blog Here and Now. She now lives in Sacramento, California. You can see all "Letters to Kat" posts here.]