My sister has been living overseas for 12 years-a year longer than I have. People often ask how it happened that we decided to country hop for a good chunk of our young adult lives. The short answer is: I don’t know.
Maybe we share a curious spirit or are intrigued with how others live. Perhaps it’s in our genes, remnants of a globetrotter ancestor’s trait we know nothing about. It could be a slight addiction too; new environment = excitement.
A few months ago, Monica and her hubby made the tough decision of leaving New Zealand. Recently, in conversation about NZ, these facts came up: there are no dangerous plants or insects there, you can bet on seeing fluffy sheep and at times, a penguin, and traffic is minimal. We joked, calling it a “fantasy island”. Yes, New Zealand is something else. Geographical gems aside, the people are great and there’s a general chillness about the place that makes you wanna stay. Hence, their three years there.
The Return was inspired by heart-string tugging of being near family and a few other big reasons. As she prepared her suitcases and sold off home items, I understood my sister’s bitter sweetness. There’s an aching in her heart at leaving a place she deeply connected with, the place her baby girl was born. What’s more, there’s a level of sadness at closing this chapter of the living overseas life, even if temporarily.
You see, there’s something that happens when you move internationally. At first, the tie home is taut-you know where you came from, your memories are fresh. Then, the years go by and your life’s experience spins in other places that bring certain growth and awareness. The tie home is still there, but maybe it’s a little looser; maybe more ties are made, creating a weave of identifying stories. Bits of home have been felt in other places, and coming back to where you started has changed for you. While there may be a lasting love of the place you grew up, the definition of home has expanded…globally.
There will be some challenges to this return. Like any other transition, the change of culture, environment, and values will require time for adaptation. Even though she’s from California, she’ll probably experience some culture shock.
But, like any other transition, time helps. Life fills up with settling in, sharing with people you love, and finding your way to contribute positively to the place you now call home.