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So. I’m back. Home. Wherever that is, right? At the moment: California. Nestled up warmly with my cats and some kind of flu bug (the former welcomed, the latter not so much).

As for my trip, I wasn’t the best day-to-day blogger, but I think I’ve tried that multiple times and failed a bit. I’m just not good at giving accounts like that (you know, the whole “this is everything I did today” spiel), because as comprehensive as I try to make them, in the end I get disappointed.

Why? First off, the voice isn’t real. It’s not me. I think I just do better at the introspective kinds of things. And I can’t be introspective about a daily log. At least, not like I’d like to. Secondly, the bigger picture doesn’t account for all the little moments that made the trip what it was. The inside jokes, the smiles, the moments I shared with so many people. My words just don’t cut it. As I told a friend in an email earlier this week: “I have no way of expressing how much this visit has meant to me…except knowing in my heart. And I wish I could somehow find the most fitting set of words to explain what I feel. But I can’t. That’s why I’m a writer though – that urge to want to make my world make sense to others the same way it makes sense to me.”

And of course, I’m writing from the most difficult point: the “after”. I just spent three amazing weeks in Europe – in two countries that I have an affinity for and with a handful of people whom I love. And naturally, I’m in the comedown stage, the low point, where the excitement is gone and I have a lot of free time and I’m mostly sad. Pining. To be surrounded by good people non-stop. For simpler times. Because a lot of things were made clear to me on this particular trip, and they all had to do with the idea of material possessions, of what constitutes wealth, of excess people and things in my life, of what is important to me and what I truly need to survive. 

In no way whatsoever does this mean that I don’t love and appreciate so many aspects of the life I have right now, because I do. I live in one of the most beautiful locations in the world. I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to sleep or where my next meal will come from. I have a family that loves and supports and believes in me. I have amazing friends who think I’m awesome and are there for me when things aren’t always easy. And I have an inner circle of graduate school colleagues who support me intellectually and emotionally.

But still, sometimes I can’t help but get too caught up in my everyday life to the point where I take it for granted. And it’s the vacationing away, out of the country and out of my normal headspace, that gives me perspective and sharpens my vision. It’s the challenge of balancing being anonymous but always being engaged in my surroundings. Although I wonder sometimes if that is the paradox of wanderlust: that it only works because I know where I ultimately have to return to. What happens in six months when I’m no longer living in this “home” of mine? Will I remain in a permanent sense of wonder, constantly reanalyzing and reconfiguring my role, thirsting for more experience, lusting for life? Or will I once again settle in a new place, and go through the motions all over again, longing for someplace, anyplace, that isn’t where I am?

The aforementioned friend said that what I’m feeling is only natural, as this is something I feel to a certain extent after every trip. As he put it: “You’re full with adrenaline, living in a different time zone and….. SUDDENLY…… you find yourself back in a place that should be ‘Home’. Or at least was when you left it a couple of weeks ago. So…. you’ll have to reinvent yourself. Again. Which seems ironic because this was one of the reasons you left home in the first place. Reinvent yourself in foreign places, then come back home and…. reinvent yourself some more.”

That’s exactly it.