Friday, March 14, 2014

count down




I want to go home. 

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to move back home. 

I just want to go home for a while. 

I am burned out from work and Taiwan. I think that's probably normal. I get burned out every year teaching because teaching is an intense + demanding job. It's performing everyday, all day. It's dealing with the unexpected left and right [middle schoolers are good at throwing curve balls]. And being an expat is kinda like that too. Both can become a bit exhausting. 

It has been 450 days since I last was home in the Pacific Northwest with my family and friends. That's a long time. And when I was last home, it was not a joyous occasion. It was a spur of the moment, panic induced trip and the darkest of dark times when my father very suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. It didn't feel good and it didn't feel nice and going home should be both of those things because I have a great home and a great family. 
 

Being an expat is a wondrous, difficult thing. Right now Taiwan is my home but it will never be my home home. I still go out into the streets some days, look around and wonder where the heck am I?. I still get completely and utterly lost. I still cannot understand more than five phrases. I still don't know my own address in English. It's such a bizarre life that sometimes still doesn't even feel real. 

What I need more than anything is to go back to where I come from and reconnect with my past life. To drive down roads I know so well because I've driven down them, all the way down them, so many times before. To wake up in a familiar room in a familiar house. To see my family and friends and build new memories. To go back to places that left a huge mark on my life and stand there and remember that it was all real, that it was all my life at one point in time, because after being in Asia for nearly two years it's almost hard to concretely remember what day to day life was like before. 

What it was like to understand every conversation around me. To be able to read every sign and menu and price tag. To answer the phone and not have someone hang up on you because they dialed the wrong number and cannot speak English. To walk down the street invisible because you don't stick out like a sore thumb. To actually get behind the wheel of a car rather than hop on a scooter. To be able to call up my mom and go shopping and have lunch together on a whim. 
 

Yesterday, my school asked me for our preferred travel dates this summer. One of the huge perks of international teaching is free round trip airfare home and back. My school offers this perk every other summer and that means this summer we are going home! We plan on spending seven weeks in the Pacific Northwest, spending time with our families, gorging on all the food we miss and partaking in several of our summer traditions, mainly road trips with either the beach or mountains as the destination. 

I cannot wait to hug my mom + brother and love on Zeus, his dog. I cannot wait to meander all around my favorite little towns. I cannot wait to call my friends and chat whenever I want and then make plans to have dinner with them because they are 30 minutes away rather than an ocean away. I cannot wait to go grocery shopping and to five billion of my favorite restaurants. I cannot wait to walk into Barns and Nobles and then not leave for five days. I cannot wait to walk through forests and along pristine beaches and smell fresh, salty sea air and watch the sun set over the Olympic Mountains. I cannot wait to drive with the windows down and heater on and music blasting. I cannot wait for loooong summer days and bright starry nights. I cannot wait to hear fog horns and ride ferries and be in all of the places that made me me. 

I am officially starting the countdown: 109 days and I simply cannot wait!!! 
 

16 comments

  1. Oh I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes you just want to be where everything feels right and familiar. How exciting that you have your trip home to look forward to! I hope the time flies :)

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  2. I completely feel you on this post! I haven't been an ex-pat (or abroad) for NEARLY as long as you, but I am definitely anxious for when I next head home! Right now, it could be anytime in the next three weeks (and its so hard not to know when it will be!). Absence certainly makes the heart grow fonder. I know exactly what you say too about Taiwan not being your home home- I'm sure you call it "home", but in your heart of hearts home is always back home. Or at least thats how I feel!

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    1. Totally. Taiwan is my home; it's where I live and it's where I work and it's where my friends are and it's where my life is but it will never be my home home.

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  3. Oh I've been there! As wonderful as being an expat is, it's also very sad and full of homesickness at times. I'm not going to hope that your time flies by, because it's important that expat time is savored, but I'm going to hope for you that you have so much time in the next 100 days that you don't miss home so much :)

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    1. I agree that I should not waste away the time before I leave. It's a little hard for me because I know I will be back to Taiwan after the seven weeks at home. I will try to make the most of these 109 days on this little island.

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  4. I think it's completely normal to feel this way! :) But the good thing is that once you're home, you start to appreciate the little things about your host country again - at least after a couple of days. And you might even find yourself missing Taiwan! :) I think we all have those times when we're really longing for the comfort of our home and then times when there's nothing that we want more than to go out to explore the world - and both is okay! :) 109 days really isn't that long anymore - the time is surely going to fly! :)

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    1. I know you're right. I know that once I get home and the glow wears off a bit I will miss a whole lot about Taiwan like the cost of gas/ease of transport on a scooter. That happened when I went home the first time after just four months of living in Taiwan. Sometimes I feel so torn when the whole home v travel desires conflict.

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  5. It is normal and expected that you will at some point during your exalt stay be missing home! Your count down will go by so fast that you will find yourself home in no time. In the mean time I hope you keep writing fun posts about your scoot adventures and time in Taiwan!

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    1. Thanks! Don't worry: I went on a scoot adventure today and have lots of pictures + stories!

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  6. Oh man, sometimes I just miss the Pacific Northwest SO MUCH. Especially on those beautiful sunny days. We're going home this summer, too, and cannot wait to bask in the summer sun and squeeze the ones I love!

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    1. I know! I am from a small community across the sound from Seattle and I cannot explain how much I miss the fresh air and beauty and laid back atmosphere. It will always be so good to go home.

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  7. HOORAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    (Guessing this is somewhere in the neighborhood of 109 exclamation points. Thought about counting them but then realized that even I'm not that anal. And also I have to go to work. Whatevs.) LOB YOU! See you soon!

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    1. I cannot wait to see you either (and visit Sweet Laurette's)!

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    2. So you knew this would happen: I did count them and there are 268 (within the boundaries of statistical error; I only counted once so I have a flawed data set) which just means that I am 2.459x as excited to see you as there are days remaining until you get here.

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    3. ... and this is exactly why I like you so much :)

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