Returning home after travel brings up many emotions including, but not limited to, angst. It’s all very weird after the dust settles and you’ve made your initial “rounds” of reunions with friends and family. People are “super excited your home!” until life goes back to normal and it’s business as usual. You’re excited, too, and then, suddenly, you feel every ounce of the giant halt you’re coming to…a screeching loud and whiplash inducing…HALT.
Everything just stops.
You’ve landed. You’re home from
Mars traveling- now what do you do? What am I going to do now? At least that’s what I asked myself, over and over, the first couple days weeks after my plane touched down in San Francisco.
It’s a confusing time. It’s as if the dreaded “dot, dot dot…and then?” sentiment is blown up to life size and taken over your existence while the world spins on faster and faster.
You’re dizzy from all the spinning and coming to such an abrupt halt.
Disorientation. That’t what.
A disoriented mind, and heart- and a few massive changes you’ve noticed…
10 Things I’ve Noticed After Returning Home
1. Difficulty relating to people who’ve never left home. I think I already had a hard time with this one BEFORE I traveled, and now it’s particularly bad. It’s not that I am judging- I get that there are a million reasons people CAN’T travel (health, family, finances, etc.). It’s more that I have less to say to these people and far lower interest levels in hearing about the happenings of small town life when THERE’S A WHOLE WORLD OUT THERE WAITING TO BE SEEN PEOPLE!
2. Distance isn’t a big deal anymore. I find myself saying things like, “As long as we’re in the same country, we’ll sort it out and meet up!” I remember living in Downtown Sacramento, when I was in college, and telling my friends in Roseville I would NOT drive the 20-30 minutes out there to meet after working downtown all day. I couldn’t leave my little 10-mile radius of a bubble. That’s way too far! I’m so tired! I don’t want to go far from home. What a lazy, weird, former version of myself. Whoever, that was, I’m glad she’s left the building.
Crossing borders of countries and constantly being on the go for the better part of three years conditioned that part out of me. Through covering so much ground, and sometimes planting my feet in two countries over the course of 24 hours, taught me that distance isn’t an issue so long as there are means of transportation and a little bit of “chutzpah” on your end. I love taking spontaneous trips now, whether it be for a few hours, days or weeks. I’m up for anything. If I know a friend is in the same state or country as me, I am planning a way to meet up- distance be damned.
3. Everyday issues sounds trivial. It’s weird hearing about celebrity news at such a higher frequency back home. It’s strange worrying about traffic on the freeway when I got used to taking trains, undergrounds, etc.. It’s borderline annoying to hear people complain about small issues like not getting their drink order right or how they “had a bad date night.” It’s eye roll inducing to sit through a venting session about your friend’s nails that were “done totally wrong!” It’s disheartening watching people complain about portion sizes being “ridiculously large” then throwing food out, flashing back in my mind to the townships in South Africa.
Perspective…it’s everything, isn’t it?
4. Cost of living makes you nauseous. After spending so much time in Third World countries like Thailand, South Africa, Costa Rica, the cost of everything back home seems insurmountable. I cringe every time I hand over $3-4 for a coffee at Starbucks, knowing that would cover all my meals for the day in Thailand…on the beach.
5. Food will never be the same. I grew up eating Round Table Pizza, Dominos…you know, the “good stuff” (not). Then I really grew up and went off to Italy and ruined pizza for myself forever. Melt-in-your-mouth pizza in Naples will make all other pizza seem bland and kinda gross. Then there’s the $1 (and best of your freaking life) pad thai in Thailand that you try to recreate by ordering from “The Best Thai Restaurant” who charges $12 and makes it only 10% as good.
6. Commercials annoy you…BIG TIME. It’s so funny because I’ve always been a person who hates commercials, but during my time abroad I didn’t mind them at all. Hearing a South African accent, for example, sell you car insurance inbetween Today’s Hits on the radio isn’t a bad thing. Compare that with hearing the same advertisement in the nasal-y American-Long Island Medium voice blaring through the speakers in the car while you sit in traffic and, well, I’m not smiling.
7. Your favorite spots have moved or don’t exist anymore. I left the states in 2015. It’s 2018 now and returning back to Sacramento where I went to college, for example, made me precisely aware of how much a city can change in just 2-3 years. Many of my favorite bars/cafes were no longer there, prices had gone up significantly, and I couldn’t find parking to save my life. Things change while you’re gone!
8. Everything feels surreal, like you’ve just woken up from a dream. Like, did that even happen? Time and space become so absurd to you that you question your own sanity/existence/belief system. All of a sudden the mechanics of how exactly you got from Over There on the map to Over Here, and everything that transpired in the meantime…it BLOWS YOUR MIND.
9. Skyscanner’s “Everywhere” option haunts you, like you’re an addict and it’s your vice. I am not affiliated in anyway with SkyScanner- BUT I should be because I’m constantly getting people to use it. Skyscanner: Hit me up, I’m your girl. I LOVE utilizing the “everywhere” option when searching for my next destination. You select your departure country, or city, or however specific you want to be, then select “everywhere” as your destination, prompting a list of options by lowest to highest price per ticket. It’s genius. It’s a traveler’s DREAM. And when you’re a travel addict who’s trying to plant their feet on the ground again…it’s dangerously alluring. I had to delete the app off my iPhone and iPad, and remove it from my “favorites” on Google Chrome- you know, to make it one click harder for myself.
10. You realize “home” will never be “home” again. This realization is perhaps the most jarring, and the most meaningful. Through returning to the place you had labeled in your mind as Home (the one place on Earth where you feel you just belong) you leave behind all the great new places and people you’ve discovered out there in The Big Bad World.
Pieces of your heart are left behind in every port of entry. It’s just how it goes.
This, coupled with the new version of yourself that feels slightly less American (or wherever you’re from) is enough to make you feel less “homey” at Home than you’d ever imagine. It’s very strange, to say the least.
I may never feel at home anywhere again…which is sad for a moment, then entirely freeing and liberating as I realize I am not tied to any pin on a map. Home is where the heart is, and mine is scattered everywhere around the world.
I’ve never felt more “home” on planet Earth in my life.
Today it’s California, tomorrow who knows.
Next year? Maybe Skyscanner will start selling flights to Mars- just saying, if Tesla can do it…
So, now what?
I re-learn how to live in the United States (at least for now), that’s what.
Coming home is a journey in and of itself, and I’m happy to have you with me for all of it!