Sometimes I think I am constantly between time zones and geographical continents, neither here nor there.
I say this so often, I know, but I need you to know that I mean it – it isn’t that I’m unhappy to be back home. It isn’t that I hate being back in familiar territories and the family home, difficult that it can be. I’ve returned many times in the past 3.5 years I was away and each homecoming is different, laden with an equally different, mostly complicated, set of emotions and perspectives.
The difference when it comes to feeling these convoluted emotions towards home versus other places is this: how do you even begin to explain feeling like a foreigner when everything around you is familiar territories? How do you reconcile the unease you feel internally with the familiar external environment? How do you and more specifically, what sort of excuses could you give and get away with, in justifying the palpitations and unease you feel to a crowd of equally familiar faces?
What more, this isn’t just any kind of familiar terrains. It’s home – the same one you name as your birthplace, the same one you were raised and grew up in, the same one that you’re a product of and most significantly, the same one your heart’s compass points to even when the other sides are more appealing or whatever else. Perpetual homesickness is an irony, almost a joke – except it isn’t. Away from the family home and home itself, your heart yearns to return and yet, the moment you’re back – it sings a melancholic tune. Strange, so incredibly fuckin’ strange.
On tough days, it stresses me out that lots of things about home remain the same – it’s like I’m stuck in a particular time zone, time frame and place even as the greater world continues to spin. On other days, I beat myself up about being obnoxious and insensitive, that it’s me and not where I’m at. It’s been exactly three weeks since I’ve been back and to be honest, I am still playing catch up with my heart and mind as I find myself still stuck between ideals and reality, past and present.
It isn’t that I am unhappy to be back, I beg you to understand that. Everything in life is a balance – there are plenty brief and random moments in which I find myself laughing over a funny story in good company, smiling to myself at the realization that I’m surrounded by my dearest ones and when the mood turns contemplative, overcome with emotions at my deck of life’s cards; blessed. Sometime’s life’s just right.
I have said this a million times by now, but it’s a dilemma I constantly face and have yet to resolve – when I am on one side of the world, the other ceases to exist. Yet there are remnants of the alternate, acting as proof and testament of sorts that as opposing as these two lives of mine are, they’re both real and did take place. However, it’s one thing to know this fact, quite another to act upon it.
For instance, truthfully my phone still has Philly on its weather forecast and the prayer time app also indicates Philly’s time zone. I’m still getting an influx of emails on daily deals in my ‘local neighborhood’ despite the reality that I’m now thousands of miles away. In addition, I think this is part of the reason why The Graduation Series is halted, despite my multiple attempts at continuing and finishing it. Nothing quite gets to me in the same way this one in particular does: whenever I search for nearby WiFi connections, HoneyMadu – the apartment’s WiFi name – still appears on my list, as if it’s within range. It’s so easy – all I have to do is click Forget, you know? If only… memories are as easily erased as technology has since programmed them to be.
It’s been three weeks since I left Philly for good – for good, the term still rolls rather awkwardly on my tongue – and many days since I’ve to shake and remind myself that that period in my life did take place. The human heart is a funny thing, it remembers even when the mind’s forgotten.
Today I miss it a little, but reality’s taught me well – you don’t bargain and strike deals with goodbyes. Rather, you take what’s given and if you’d parted ways in good spirits, then say your thanks and move forward because as much as it is painful and heartbreaking, there are whole other chapters just waiting to be written. You’ve got to trust that what’s meant to be, will be.
So I remember Philly today… and simply smiled at the memories.