Well, not sure if "regularly" is the correct word because we both admit to being pretty inconsistent, but we have the best intentions to keep this series going. (Is it a series if we've only had one post and one guest post?)
Both of us are traveling to our original homes in the next couple of months, so we thought we'd share our thoughts, feelings, and anticipations about that visit.
Erin's story: It's been exactly two years since I've last been to Texas. I am suffering from some serious homesickness, I ain't gonna lie about that. Two years is a long time to go without a hug from my daddy, a laugh with my mama (in person), and the taste of chile con queso in my belly.
Two years ago, my trip was planned around niece #1's high school graduation and a cousin's college graduation. This year, my trip is planned around niece #2's high school graduation. I will also get to spend Memorial Day in the good ol' U.S. of A. As a bonus, my mom, my niece, my sister-in-law and I are having a quick San Francisco getaway together. And, as a further bonus, three of my bestest girlfriends are meeting me in Northern Cali after the relatives go back to Texas, and I'll complete my trip with a couple of days in the Sonoma Valley with my girls.
When I go home, there is no time for rest and relaxation. I am constantly on the go, doing all the things and seeing all the people and eating all the food. I love Texas food. I may have an unhealthy relationship with it, but seriously, when I'm home, I gorge on alllll those things that I miss when I'm in Australia.
Neither of my parents live in Houston anymore. I split my time between Huntsville (with my dad and stepmom) and Tyler (with my mom and her guy), and I squeeze in a little College Station time where my brother and his family lives.
Often, I get overwhelmed because I never get to see all the people I want to see or do all the things I want to do. I have to prioritize, and in this situation, as cliché as it sounds, it's family first for me.
So, this might sound bad, but I also see the folks who are willing to be flexible and put effort in our relationship. There are folks that I was really close to when I lived in Texas, yet I never hear from them anymore. That's fine. Our lives have gone in different directions. So, I see the folks that are currently a part of my life, and not the ones that were once upon a time.
There is always some feelings of guilt. I feel guilty by the pain in my father's voice, and the tears in my mother's eyes. They support my happiness here, but we miss seeing once another more frequently, and I'd be lying if I didn't say I feel guilty about it.
And, when I visit Texas without my guy, I miss him. Three weeks without your partner in life is a significant amount of time to be apart. But, it's something we knew would be a part of our relationship with the reality of me living on the other side of the planet of so many of my loved ones.
The most difficult part of the trip? Saying goodbye. Especially when I don't have an exact plan of when I'll be there next. So, so tough. I get on that plane. I sigh. I reflect. I may cry. But, I head back to my second home where my husband and stepkids and life awaits.
I feel fortunate to call two places home. To have people that love and value me. To love and value others. Through the hardships, the feeling of gratitude for that love and appreciation outweighs all.
Kristen's story: It has been almost 3 years since I last went home, and almost 5 and a half years since I left for good (though, I didn't know that at the time).
Like Erin, I am suffering from some pretty awful homesickness as well. I am very excited that I will be back in my home country, eating all the food I miss, hearing people talk like me, seeing words I recognise, driving on the side of the road I learned to drive on... all those things. But I am obviously most excited about seeing my family, especially my mum.
My mum and I have always been extremely close and living on the other side of the world has been so hard. Sometimes I wish it were different, but you can't help who you love. Mum loves America and has visited a few times since I moved here (only once to Louisville though) and her last trip was September 2016. I met up with her and a friend in LA & Vegas and we had a ball (and of course, fought a ton). The next plans were for KC and I to come home in June 2017, and then mum wanted to go to Graceland sometime in 2018.
|my mum loves Toby Keith|
Before my mum's stroke, we had lots of plans - I wanted to take KC to see the Blue Mountains and the Hunter Valley. I wanted to do more touristy stuff because I didn't know when I would be back. I thought about doing another mini trip, like to Uluru or something. Busy busy busy, doing all the things and seeing all the people. Like Erin, I had friends that I was 'so close' with before I left, but they don't put any time and effort into the friendship when I am gone, so unfortunately when I am home, I don't make an effort to see them - time is far too precious for that. Moving across the world sure shows you who your people are.
Now, after my mum's stroke, we probably aren't going to go to the Blue Mountains or the Hunter Valley. We won't go to Uluru. We will probably spend most of our time at home. We had already booked New Zealand before my mum's stroke, and I don't want to waste any of the time I have with her. We will be in Australia for 2 weeks, and we are spending a few days in Melbourne like last time.
I am excited. I can't wait to see my mum, my nana, my cousins, uncles and aunties. I can't wait to see Pacey, my beautiful golden retriever. My cat Agatha couldn't give two shits about me and wouldn't come near me last time, which is definitely more than a little heartbreaking. My little brother is somewhere I'm not going to be able to visit him more than once and that also breaks my heart.
Saying goodbye is stupid hard. Flying home is crazy expensive, KC and I want to start a family soon and won't be able to travel as often. The thought of more long flights makes the butterflies in my stomach go crazy. My mum probably won't be able to travel for quite some time. The unknown, the I don't know when I will be back, when I will see my mum again, it's so freaking hard. I feel so guilty that I am not there. That my dog, Pacey, gets SO excited when she sees me (will she remember me this time?), but my cat Agatha could not care less. They are both getting older, and I am not there for them. Yes, I realise they are animals, but I'm not there for my mum, little brother or nana either.
Like Erin, I do feel fortunate that I can call two places home and that I have people who love me enough to miss me, and I them. Sometimes I have to work a little harder at my appreciation and not turn into a sulky child, but at the end of it all, there's no real solution. I am who I am because of where I've come from and where I am today. My heart - as corny as it sounds - is forever split between the two places. Instead of sulking about it, I will appreciate the visits home more than I ever appreciated actually living there.
As I'm sure you can tell, being an expat going home is all sorts of emotional. But I'm sure I speak for both of us when I say excitement about going home and doing all the things definitely outweighs all the not so great feelings. And of course, I am making Erin see me when I am in Sydney, and who wouldn't be excited about that?