And then I was there. The shiny rubbed off quickly and I realized that maybe this was not my home. I don't think I had the vocabulary to put my feelings into words at the young age of eleven or twelve, but looking back now I can tell you that I had changed, moving overseas had made me different.
I want to walk lightly, step gingerly around those memories. As much as I know that my life had moved in a different direction the other side of it was that life there had moved on too. I expected things to be the same and they expected me to be the same. Neither was true.
I remember the word I did have for that experience: disappointment.
I have had this conversation again and again with TCKs, that realization that when you "go back" you no longer belong. It isn't just with TCKs either. Something about travel, about living outside of your original world, about that opening of doors does huge change within.
I had changed and for me that meant the news was now less about them and more about us. The word "normal" was discontinued (more on that later). Every face had a story, every culture had merit, every place had the potential for home. Conversations included more than one language, experiences seemed larger than life but also like just life. I left on an adventure as one person and went back as another.
When we "go back" that world can seem small only because that world seemed so big to us before we saw other ones. I often say to myself, why wouldn't they want to travel, but I forget that once I did not travel. I was young, but it was true. I forget that my heart called that place home just as they do. I forget that in my other worlds there are people who are living the same way, people who stay where they are, who are planted and grow deep and beautiful roots.
Try as I may, I cannot pause each world, keep it from spinning, until I can "go back" to it. Time moves forward, life moves on. I cannot do this anymore than people can keep me from being changed by time and motion myself. It occurs to me here that it is hard for me to "go back", but it is also hard to have me back. And in that, suddenly I approach "going back" differently, walking lighter, looking at my old world as a changed world.
What have you felt when you went back?