I’m home. I’ve been home for a few days now. I’ve already started taking classes at the gym, filling out paperwork for my summer job, and seeing family and friends.
At first, hearing all English, all the time, was extremely overwhelming. But, I’ve adjusted. In some ways it’s like I’ve never left. But perhaps that’s a good thing.
For now, home feels right. It feels more right than it ever has.
I’ve missed home. I’ve missed my family. I’ve missed my friends. I’ve missed driving my car. I’ve missed my favorite foods. I’ve missed my childhood memories.
Earlier this week whilst unpacking and reorganizing, I opened up my closet and found all of my “future classroom materials” waiting patiently to be used. I brushed them off and reassured them that they would be used in another year or two. I also found abandoned clothes I originally left behind, in addition to a storage box full of memories carefully packed away for future smiles. I found old photographs full of happy faces and of recent memories and experiences. I’ve driven to my old, familiar hangouts and seen my family and friends. I’ve caught up with my various appointments and have almost finished unpacking my suitcases.
At 24, it’s hard to gain perspective with such limited life experiences. You think every decision you make is so drastic and life changing, even though that as Americans we are so lucky to have the cultural flexibility and expectations of being able to start over. Your older mentors and peers will tell you that life is long and that even if you make a decision you can always change your mind or start over the next year.
I wrote about how home is sometimes more of a feeling than a place. I never thought I would be able to see my small city just outside Milwaukee as “home” again. But the truth is that this city and the people living here are always going to be home, and the truth is that I could maybe see myself here, and happy, for at least a little while. Perhaps it took two study abroads, two-and-a-half more years of undergrad, eight months of working, and nine months of work/travel to figure that out. But that’s okay.
I’m going back to France in September; that is certain. I am sure I will be happy and ready and excited once the time comes. But for now I’m enjoying home. I’m enjoying the now. But above all I am embracing my decisions and trying to confidently sticking with them. Traveling and living abroad was my dream, and I am living it. I am doing it. I shouldn’t feel guilty for living my life.
But on days where I do feel guilty or sad or uncertain, I take a deep breath and say to myself, “There will always be jobs and there will always be home— I’m lucky to have people and a place to call home. But there may not always be France.”