After last week’s blog post, I received the following message from a friend. She’s a repatriated expat, who lived in Turkey for two years.
Like me, she has many doubts about being back in the US. Many “Is this where I belong?” questions. Many moments of “The grass is greener” somewhere else…or is it? What’s it like to go back to find out?
Here’s what she wrote:
Two more sleeps and it will be “wheels up” for me. Buh-bye, New Mexico. I’m returning to Chile, two days after my permanent residency visa has expired.
I’ll be entering Chile as a “tourist” for the first time in six years. Whew. How’s that gonna feel?
I guess I’ll find out on Wednesday morning. Since there’s no one renting the AirBnB apartment the day before my arrival, the owner is graciously allowing me to check in early that day with no extra fees.
I have the best problem in the world. What’s good about it? I have many, many friends.
So what’s the problem? They’re scattered to the four winds.
Last week, I read an article about how difficult it is to say goodbye to friends. The article was referring to the life of an expat who was preparing for a move to a new location. The author was concerned about “losing friends” in the move.
This week, my “Chilean daughter” turned 21.
It seems like only yesterday that I walked into her 8th grade classroom for the first time, but that was back in 2009. Francisca would have been 14 then. A quiet teenager, she came to the front of the classroom when I played Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day.”
I wrote about it in A Million Sticky Kisses:
Tomorrow, I will have been back in Albuquerque for four weeks. Seems like yesterday. Seems like a hundred years.
I want to write, but darned if I know what to write about. Do you want to hear about my comparison of bread and cookies? Would you rather hear about how everywhere I turn here something reminds me of Phillip? Can I whine about how miserably hot it is? If I did, would you sympathize with me or tell me to suck it up? ¡Aguanta no mas!
Dare I mention the crazy political climate that makes my stomach churn and leaves me feeling choice-less, voiceless, hopeless, and helpless?
When I was a little girl, I used to visit my grandma. We had a special relationship and I wanted to stay there with her forever and ever, where I felt comfortable, safe, and loved up.
After a visit, when my parents came to pick me up, she would stand on her front porch and wave goodbye until our car passed over the last rise and out of sight. I always had the feeling that she stayed there, for a minute or two afterward, with her hand raised in a wave just to make sure that I, teary-eyed, with my nose pressed against the back window of the car, could no longer see her.
Holidays as an expat can be tricky. The holidays that you used to celebrate, back in your passport country, aren’t always celebrated in your new country, and if they are, they’re not always celebrated in the same way.
I’m still in Scotland and, like Chile, Scotland doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, so I’ve yet to have my turkey. Later today, I’m meeting up with other expat strangers, who are friends-I-don’t-know-yet, to stuff ourselves into a tryptophan stupor.