A year ago I wrote an essay about feeling “finally home” and how it feels to come to terms with the change of moving abroad. As I look back on that essay, I think about all the things that have happened since then this year and all the things that happened before I wrote it. It wasn’t smooth sailing after I wrote it, but life felt a lot easier to navigate once I became conscious to the realities of being abroad.
I think when you move abroad, a part of you expects things to stay the same…. The same plans with friends, your favorite shows on TV every Sunday, your local grocery store still carries all your go-to snacks, a general sense of comfort and maybe even some complacency for getting your butt to another country. The other part of you is equal parts in awe and shock and, occasionally, uncomfortable. But when all that smoke begins to fade your feet start feeling more on the ground and things begin to roll. When the new starts feeling old, you are (in some respects) home.
Here’s the essay I wrote, if you are interested:
Change In Your Pocket
I walked briskly down the street, catching the last of the evening light as it bathed the city in shades of purple and blue. The breeze was fresh on my face, like taking gulps of sweet water. I listened to the hum of the boulevard below me. The sounds of buses loading and unloading, honking, grinding, screetching. Far enough from the chaos I observed these sounds. City sounds. My city’s sounds. In that moment, despite the chaos, it all felt peaceful. Life was as sweet as the breeze that drenched me.
I reached into the pocket of my vest and pulled out three coins. Pesos. I thought about how, just four months before, my nightstand held small piles of dimes and quarters, waiting to go back home and be used again. Circulated back into my old life. Or how the bottom of my purse always held a spare quarter amongst loose pesos. Where did those quarters and dimes go? When did this change occur?
This must be what it feels like to call some place home; when the change in your pocket no longer seems foreign. When your dollars are replaced with pesos and you understand the weight of them within your hand.
When I made it to the end of the block, I saw the road in front of me, bustling with rush hour commuters and put the coins back in my pocket. Maybe becoming accustomed to your new life and new home is as gradual as the change in your pocket. My thoughts hovered above me, intertwining with smog and soot from the street, mingling until they diluted each other.
I was at a cross roads. I had walked down my quiet, tree-lined street; as safe and comfortable as my old life had been, until I was met with the chaos of this boulevard’s intersection. Fast, ever-changing, and uncertain: this new life of mine. The intersection of old and new, of safe and unknown. I should turn back and go home, relax after a long day, I thought. I turned onto the boulevard and kept walking into the sunset.
-October 3, 2015
On another note, as an expat abroad (is that redundant?), writing to other expats around the world, I am here to remind you to PLEASE REGISTER TO VOTE WITH AN ABSENTEE BALLOT!! There are only a few days left to register! Please do so because, as we all know, this election is super important! And if you’re not satisfied with your Rep. and Dem. option’s: don’t be afraid to vote for whoever you think is best suited! It’s time we break this 2 party system with real candidates!