Many times in the past two years I envisioned what coming home would be like. It was often when I was riding on trains, or trying to sleep at night. I thought it would perhaps be something similar to out of a movie with meeting loved ones with hugs and tears.
I finally got that chance to come home for a visit. I left for a holiday and found myself living abroad. Ironically, now going home has become the holiday. I flew into JFK airport with my partner Steve. Going through customs wasn't the nightmare I thought it would be, as I had visited many countries while I was gone. My Aunt and Grandmother were kind enough to arrange for someone to pick us up and drive us home to New Jersey. I was a bit disorientated from the 16 and a half hours in the air but I still was able to take the traffic and highways in. After awhile, we were there, pulling up to my Grandmother's house where we would stay for a few weeks. We collected our bags, went to the house, and got the greeting I had been waiting for.
It was like it had only been a few weeks since I last saw her and my Aunt, instead of a few years. It was a bizarre feeling really. And comforting. I would say that would sum up my time at home, comforting and familiar. I suppose with facebook and Skype allowing me to keep in touch with everyone it makes sense. As the weeks passed, I met up with many people and it was a similar experience. Some people perhaps changed slightly in appearance but visits with them felt like I never went on a trip at all. We picked up the same conversations that we left off with years ago. It makes me think, if I hadn't left for this big trip then this would still be my life as well. I am certainly glad that I went on the trip that I did but now I begin to wonder if it's time to go back to the old life. It certainly contains a comforting element that I have yet to find in my life in New Zealand. I'm not going to lie, I miss the career, the extra funds, the strong friendships and the family. I'm starting to think again about setting down the roots.
Things haven't really changed but I will say that my eyes looking upon everything have. My life in Queenstown is very small and sheltered and experiencing again one of the most populated areas in the States has been a bit of a shock. For one thing I was initially bewildered at all the variety, especially in the grocery stores. I enjoyed shopping as I do feel that fashion styles are slightly different here than in New Zealand. I forgot how dependent us Americans are on cars and lack of opportunities to exercise outside of the gym. I nearly had a melt down driving outside the Washington DC area from the cars and traffic on 95 South. I found America to not be as cheap as I remembered it being, with the exception of the petrol. That was a nice change. It seems like everyone has a smart phone now, and when did they start putting those little phone bar codes on everything? And what is with all the #twitter stuff everywhere as well? I found my diet changed as I was able to eat more chicken and vegetables again, these two things being especially expensive in Queenstown. Having a a Grandmother and parents to cook food for us was nice as well.
Going to New York City was my favorite part. Steve my partner had never been, I ended up doing things I never had done before, such as the Brooklyn Bridge, the 9/11 Memorial, and Top of the Rock. Seeing a city you are familiar with after traveling is something else. If anything, I think I appreciate NYC even more. I have been to many, many cities in my travels. Each one has its own personality with the people, the transport, and the buildings. I enjoyed the cities in Europe with all of their history and culture. I liked the cities in China for their differences from the Western World. I found myself a bit bored with the Australian cities being a bit too modern (sorry). There's just something about NYC that I love. Perhaps it's the blend of modern skyscrapers with classic architecture. Or the craziness of the cab drivers and traffic. It could be the familiar unpleasant smell of the subways coming up from the vents in the sidewalks, or how there always seems to be something going around, no matter where you look. It's very interesting how traveling can make you open your eyes up more to the world that you live in.
Going home certainly had many happy moments. I got to see friends and family that I missed dearly. But it was a bit frustrating and sad as well. You see everyone for a bit, but then you have to say goodbye again. It pulls at the heart strings. It's easier to deal with not being around people when you are far away and haven't seem them in awhile. But when they are right there, and you find yourselves laughing like you used to, joking like you used to, and not having a care in the world with the people that you love you don't want to leave it again. I know that it will be fine when I get back to New Zealand, but when I have to say goodbye to people it can feel like a cold and empty place. When I was on my travels, and even settled abroad I often felt alone, even though I have been fortunate to form some friendships and relations with people. Going home has been a nice reminder that I still matter to people. I guess that makes the hurt of saying goodbye again worth it.
I'd like to thank everyone at home for making my visit worthwhile, especially to my Grandmother, Aunts, sister, mother, father and step-mom. Thanks also to my friends for making the effort to see us, even if it may have been for a few hours. Believe me, I wish it could have been more.
I hope it's less than 2 more years before the next time I visit, and until then I will be thinking of you all fondly.