Moving to London is a life-changing event that had wrought massive homesickness when I first moved over, which recurs each time I visit home and must return again. It’s funny, though, how after a couple years I did start finding myself a bit homesick for London instead during my first days visiting home—I miss my husband, my cute lil’ London apartment, my London friends, London architecture and culture, and just my casual London everyday existence as I’m taken out of my routine.
And yet here I sit, in my childhood bedroom the day before returning to London after two weeks in the States, and I find myself now acclimated back to my Chicago way of living—my family, my parents’ cute lil’ yellow house, my Chicago friends, Chicago spaciousness and convenience (like my car!!!), and just my casual Chicago everyday existence as I’m reinserted in my old routine.
It kinda sucks. And yet it’s also kinda great. This is the expat experience of straddling two homes, the home where you live and the home where you came from, though “home” might be, for some, not a matter of geographic location but where your heart resides. In my case, my heart is still in Chicago, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t made room in it for England. I feel like it’s thanks to my current expat life that, when we repatriate, I’ll be able to embrace my Chicago life with an expanded outlook that will appreciate it differently, and perhaps I’ll live it even better from where I’d left off. For as much I’ve remained the same, after moving to London, personal growth and awareness have snuck up on me .
Being an American expat living here means having to say goodbye more often than I’d prefer, but it’s also getting to say hello with more and more enthusiasm with every next embrace. It’s focusing your lenses to better see what matters, taking stock of what’s no longer in your backyard and relishing what you do have for the time being before life takes you on another journey somewhere else or from whence you came. And just when you might think you’re only relocating to London for a job, studying abroad, or meeting new people, you just might find you’re moving to meet yourself again.
I tell you, “America the Beautiful” literally brought tears to my eyes for the first time when I listened to it yesterday with new ears; my heart likewise wells with pride when I see the Union Jack flag flapping amidst Britain’s celebrations. I’m proud to be a citizen of one fine country while the resident of another, and perhaps, in future, instead of singing the words to “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” or “God Save the Queen,” I’ll just hum the sweet little tune that accompanies both (FYI, if you didn’t realize that…) so I’ll never have to truly say goodbye to either.
Bidding all Americans (whether home or abroad) a happy Memorial Day today! I’m off to go celebrate it here Stateside. 🙂