I've been back on home turf for a week now, after almost a year overseas. I'm sorting out my cheddar withdrawal and enjoying some sleep-in time with my parents' cat. I'm filing my taxes, finally getting a safe haircut, and catching up with the people.
Now I've read piles of coming-home blogs in travel world, and they always resonate. I know all about reverse culture shock and the banality of the familiar and the frustration that no one cares about that day you spent at the Vietnamese orphanage quite as much as you do.
Oh yes, I know.
I know how, after months in a country whose national tongue is not your own, public places seem so freakin' loud as you suddenly understand every conversation around you. I can relate to it all.
But I'm getting better at this; better at leaving, and better at coming back.
I'm feeling very lucky, and I've been pondering this fortune in the past week. My family is endlessly supportive of my bouts overseas. My friends, the ones I knew in the pre-nomad days, are a joy to catch up with. I love that they take interest in the cultures I've experienced and the things I've learned. I love hearing about the changes in their lives. I may have been a bit of a righteous traveler in the past, but I think I'm getting into a better groove now, of appreciating loved ones whose lives are different from mine but whose characters are full of love and intelligence and warmth. Our hobbies and lifestyles are different, but still we think highly of one another.
I used to come back to Ottawa feeling deracinated. The neighbourhood of my youth, evolving and further gentrifying, getting less familiar each time. The people I knew so well, whose changing jobs and growing relationships I might miss entirely during the long periods between visits. But I'm getting better at this, and starting to enjoy this post-travel phase. No flashes of wanderlust just yet, no unsettled ennui. Yeah, a gushy-happy blog post isn't nearly as juicy as an angst one. Maybe the restlessness will hit soon. But for now friends, it's all smiles.
Maybe it's the cheddar buzz talking...