.When I went overseas to teach in an International School I vowed to stay close to my family and friends back home. And I did. We Facebook-ed. I flew home every winter and summer vacation. I continued to be part of their lives, and they part of mine.
..As my years overseas turned into 11, 12 and more, staying “caught-up” with folks back home was….well, it wasn’t happening as I had planned. Not being there to experience life together on a daily basis put me out of touch. It didn’t help that I was returning home less often, opting to stay put and/or travel with colleagues sharing the international experience along with me.
..Long stretches of absence stealthily changed my relationship with family and friends. I’m far more than just a visitor when I do return home, but the “vibe” isn’t the same as if I were living there. I wasn’t around for my dad’s 82nd birthday bash, the birth of a good friend’s son, a wedding, a funeral, a graduation, a friend winning the battle with a dreaded disease, and the like. It’s shared experiences, good and bad, that grow relationships.
..It’s just not the same when you’re thousands of miles away witnessing life-impacting events on Facebook. Through years and miles of separation I’ve slipped into the status of distant friend and even distant relative to some family members. I’ve been asked why I can’t be “happy” with good ‘ole American friends and neighborhoods. I keep my ever-expanding language skills to myself while back home. No one wants to hear about my like-minded colleagues/friends who share my “exotic” lifestyle. I’ve been accused of “bragging endlessly” about my around-the-world adventures when asked what I’ve “been up to” in far-flung posts.
..This summer I decided to make the trip home. No one wants to hear about, or can relate to my tales of climbing mountains to visit Buddhist Temples on rocky hill tops, scuba diving off tropical reefs in Thailand, or the fact I’m pretty good at three languages. Conversely, I don’t relate to their satisfaction in climbing the corporate ladder and amassing more and more stuff, most of it crammed into closets and the dank corners of garages. But underneath it all, we all know who each other is at heart, and that’s the bond that keeps us together through the years and miles. I just mostly listen and smile within, glad to be home.
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