It’s snowing here. Ever so lightly, but snowing. The sun’s trying to peek through, but the clouds are winning. I’m watching the fat flakes fall as I eat lentil soup, bought at the deli over on Nostrand. I will miss being able to walk a couple of blocks to the deli. And the grocery, the bagel place, the bank, the health food shop, the nail salon, the hipster coffee shop.
Next week, I’m going back to the Land of Enchantment, where it’s sunny 280+ days per year and you have to drive everywhere. I might call it a trade-off…if I were a sun-lover.
This week, I participated in a webinar for returning expats, fifteen sessions facilitated by Cate Brubaker of Small Planet Studio. The sessions examined life as a repatriated expat, but instead of calling it “repatriation,” Cate calls it “re-entry.”
I like the word “re-entry.” It sounds so much nicer than saying “repatriation” which sounds so final and lifeless. Re-entry sounds expansive, full of possibilities and choices.
The webinar sessions had varying themes such as dealing with feelings about returning, looking for an international job, and how to be more globally connected no matter where you are. Among other things, I learned that I’m not alone in the expat boat and that there’s help for coping with our evolving lives.
Since coming back to the US last June, I’ve been struggling. Not just with the death of my son, but struggling to find a sense of place and purpose. Where do I belong? What is my next goal? If I’m honest, these are not new questions. I’ve been asking myself these things for a long time.
It sounds sexy to talk about having “wanderlust,” but in reality, for me it’s a quest for home and self. Who am I? Where in the world do I fit? I envy people who know the answers to these questions and never have to wonder.
In my amblings around Brooklyn, I met a woman named Patricia, who is about my same age. She sells rare and used books. We hit it off and spent a lazy afternoon, or two, gabbing. She is an expat from Jamaica who’s lived in Britain and Germany. She’s buying an apartment in Germany which she’ll rent out when she’s not there. Patricia has found her place.
Like the old saying about boyfriends, “Someone will show up when you stop looking,” Patricia thinks I’m being too desperate in my pursuit of place. In her soft Jamaican lilt, she told me, “Let it go. You’ll know when you find your place.”
I hope she’s right because, frankly, I’m tired of the hunt.
p.s. You’re welcome for the “Let It Go” ear worm.
p.p.s. That’s not a photo of Brooklyn. It was taken last year at The Shore in Leith, Scotland, which coincidentally ticked a lot of my boxes.