When I first moved overseas to teach in an International School, I returned home to my family and friends every winter vacation. Homecomings were a much needed reunion. But as the years passed and 3 turned into 6, then 11, I made the homeward holiday-trek less and less, opting instead to travel or just stay put. I love and miss family and friends, but holiday visits began to leave me feeling like an outsider.
While overseas I have missed the birth of my sister’s son, my dad’s battle with cancer, my aunt’s 90th birthday bash. I was in the rain forests of Ecuador when my beloved uncle passed and didn’t get the news until weeks after the funeral. I even missed my closest friend’s wedding. Through years and miles of separation I have slowly slipped into the status of distant friend and relative.
I’ve come to realize my friends and family live in different worlds than do I, both literally and figuratively. I never considered this would be an outcome of my overseas lifestyle. My sister is a corporate climber and my good friends are now mostly focused on the material pleasures their incomes’ can buy. Stories of civil wars or meditating in an ancient Buddhist temple or climbing the pyramids in Mexico don’t register with them. Sadly, the unspoken nuances of our conversation that once united us are no longer there.
By the end of a holiday visit I am anxious to return to my overseas life and it’s a bittersweet departure. Yet this year I’m making the trip “home” again because even though my loved ones and I live in different worlds, just being together at the holidays says it all.
Happy Holidays and safe travels, Michelle @ ISR
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