Returning to America after four years in Europe

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Back in the U.S. for six months after four years out of it (feel free to joke amongst yourselves), I’ve been thinking about home, and its definition, a lot lately.

Repatriation has not brought relief to the near-constant sense of contradiction and conflict. In some ways, I feel as foreign ‘back home’ as I did abroad. Though I can’t shake my wanderlust, I am oddly envious of those who have laid roots. And despite my lack of place, I find myself feeling ever so ‘at home’ in many different locations: watching fireworks in a Salt Lake City suburb; having drinks in an Irish bar on Manhattan’s Upper West Side; and going for an Italian dinner in LA’s Larchmont.

The only through line I can identify is the people, the sweet friends and family that are at once close, and scattered about. Being able to go for a Saturday afternoon movie with a college friend is an indulgence I haven’t had for too long. But I still pine for a drunken, late-night grilled cheese sandwich with Wiggle in our Prague flat.

I have resigned myself to an ever-present state of missing someone. It is the blessing and curse of expatriation-repatriation – that one can find themselves in so many new places and yet still wonder, almost ceaselessly, where is home?

Autumn often exacerbates this mild existential crisis. The cooler climes and shorter days push me inside to pad around in wool socks. Still antsy from the summer, I find myself pulling out old photo albums and journals, flipping the pages in search of I know not what. LA’s feeble attempt at any sort of season seems to only make matters worse - as I try to compensate for the lack of meteorological change and push for some sort of breakthrough, some sort of answer.

The only thing I can conclude about home is that I’ve either found it, or I will be looking eternally. Both conclusions seem rather grim so, perhaps, I will instead just try to enjoy the present.