This is a guest post by my college friend, Katie Rhone. Katie is a generous, kind, talented, worldly woman who was one of the first of my peers who taught me what being a feminist was all about. Please check out her post from her blog, My Expat Table, where she chronicles life living abroad in England.
It has been a while since I have written a post. This isn’t because nothing has been worth writing about, a lot has happened in the past couple of months and worth sharing. When you get out of the habit of doing something (kind of like when you stop exercising) and it can be really hard to get back into it. Then something happens that spurs you back into action, last night was that time for me.
After putting the kids to bed, I was lying down doing some mind numbing searches on Pinterest trying to unwind from the day. Jasa was off to France so I had the quiet house to myself. In the middle of looking at some quinoa recipes, I heard a faint cry from the other room. Then I realized it was Adrian and thought that was odd. As I turned the corner into his room, he was tucked into his Batman blanket laying on his side in a fetal position crying. This was the type of crying that I could tell was coming from his heart.
I kneeled down next to his bed and asked him what was wrong and he said “I want to see JoJo” sobbing through his tears whom is one of his grandma’s. I grabbed him quickly and pulled him into our bedroom so he didn’t wake his sister and he nestled into me like it was freezing outside and he was fighting for any ounce of warmth he could. I repeated back to him what he told me and I asked him if he wanted to call her right now. Adrian still crying said “No, I want to have a sleepover at her house in Nebraska” and then asked “When can we go and see her?”
My heart sank again as a parent and thought we were over the missing Nebraska stage. Then I realized of course he is feeling this way after an amazing month home, how could you not!! Adrian and Juliette had the opportunity to spend time doing things with friends and family they love to do- go to the swimming pool, play in the garden, run through sprinklers, go four wheeling on the farm, drive the tractor, stay up and watch movies, have gobs of ice cream, do wheel barrel races, bike races, etc. As young child, it must have been magical. It was so strong for him that out of the blue he started thinking about home and Nebraska which illicted sadness, tears and a urning to go back. I don’t blame him.
Before going home in August, I would get those feelings often. Our trip home was wonderful. We had the opportunity to see old friends, family, business partners, and others we have missed dearly. The highlight of the trip was my brother’s wedding in Atlanta. This was the finale of our trip as the next day, it was back to Manchester. As this day approached and the morning of the wedding, I was sad cause I knew it was all coming to an end. The day of the wedding was really special and so happy we got a chance to be a part of Dan and Alli’s day. I will never forget saying goodbye to my family at the airport, man was that tough.
As we boarded the plane back to Manchester something strange happened, I got renewed energy. It was a readiness to come back to our home in Alderley Edge. I felt a sense of calmness and relief walking into our house- almost like coming back home. I remember then being confused as to what I was feeling.
Is this home? Or did where we just come from home? Can home be in multiple places? I guess this is where the expression “Home is where the heart is” applies.
When you are an expatriate, the concept of “home” becomes somewhat blurred. We are Americans living in another country and culture that is different but we are still very American. Yet, we are trying to integrate into a community the best we can, although our lovely American accents are always a dead giveaway. There are things that we like and don’t like about each culture. This is why it was so hard to answer the question to our friends and family “So how is it living in England?” Often times I wanted to ask “How much time do you have?” It was very difficult to sum up to an elevator speech our thoughts and feelings about living in England because in many ways, it is becoming our home.
No matter what happens with our time here in England, this experience has made our lives richer. I hope that this will give our children a different perspective of the world that will follow them into adulthood. Until that time comes, we just have to work through these feelings together as a family and help each other on this adventure. Anytime I am yearning for a familiar Nebraska countryside, I know exactly where to go on a trail up by The Edge to get this view….