The last two months have been, to say the least, a whirlwind. In two of those weeks I flew eight flight segments and over 10,000 miles. From Dublin to Amsterdam and back, to San Francisco, Denver, Washington State, to Los Angeles. Now, I’m back in Dublin. I have been for bit and yet, I’m just now feeling like I’m actually home, processing all that happened since mid March.
I flew to Amsterdam to help one of my best friends move. She met a British guy, who lives in Amsterdam and she was moving to be with him. As I sat alone on my short flight back to Dublin I felt for the first time like this was really our home. Not just a temporary home, but a true home. It wasn’t strange my friend had moved countries, she was after all, still in Europe. The move was similar to moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Yes, it was a different country, but Europeans do this often, and it felt totally normal. As I got off the plane I slid my GNIB (Irish Identification Card) into my passport that marked my visa page and breezed through customs, just about as fast as an EU citizen. Perhaps it was the act of traveling alone, so comfortably, for a weekend trip that finally solidified my feelings of familiarity. It was a route I’d done before. And a short hop to a different country now feels about the same as a road trip to Palm Springs from LA. As the cab swerved through the damp Dublin streets taking me home, I realized, I’ll have to move back to the states in only a few years, and I’m really, really going to miss this place. I won’t miss the micro-sized washer-dryer combo that I’m pretty sure destroys all your clothes, or the awful Euro-US exchange rate, or the rain. But, I will, truly miss this place. It now feels so comfortable and familiar that even going back to the states now feels a bit foreign and jarring, at least at first.
After Amsterdam I went to the states to visit family. One of the first dinners I had with my parents we sat at a restaurant where several tables away two girlfriends chatted at such a volume that I could follow their entire conversation. It was oddly jarring, it isn’t as if Europe isn’t loud too. It’s just, different. In a small way I can’t quite find words to explain, and yet, it was unsettling. A lot of things felt this way. I found myself increasingly irritated at the mission hipsters in San Francisco. I don’t know why. And it’s strange, I love being home and seeing family, and you know, going to places like target and getting my bill in less than an hour after I’ve finished eating. But, at the same time, I missed Europe in a way I hadn’t before. For the first time, I honestly felt, I could live in Europe forever. Despite the weather, and the tiny appliances. Perhaps, I feel this way because it won’t happen. We will move home, it’s what’s best for us long-term. And I’m excited about that. But, at the same time, I want to stay. Perhaps, I still view that eventual move stateside as a sort of end. We’ll have less free time, we’ll enter into a two-week a year vacation job market. We’ll, in some ways, settle down. We’ll start a family. Of course, none of these things (except perhaps, the two-week vacation thing) are negative. But being in Europe feels protective, as if as long as we’re here the eventual threat of sameness I fear can’t touch us. That isn’t to say once we’re home we won’t travel, or have adventures. But, that move will mark the end of our twenties, the end of formal education. The beginning of what I deem real adult life. In my late twenties I’ve improved my ability to make my own adventures close to home, enjoy life even when I’m not flying all over the place, and generally feel more content with the prospect of standing still. And yet, that fear of routine or sameness is so real, so imbedded, I find it hard to fathom our living in one place long-term. Of course, this is privileged. I don’t deny that. But I also don’t deny that lack of movement feels like part of me is dying. This is true because of the aforementioned privilege. It is now apart of me, for better or worse.
But being home was so good, despite the loud talkers and hipsters. The distance means every second spent with family is precious. Every meal cooked, conversation had, or errand run. I miss seeing my family as much as I used to when I lived in the states, but I love that at least the rarity brings a certain specialness to our time together. And I’m thankful for every second spent with them. In Washington I spent a week with my parents, and though most of the days were uneventful, they were perfect, because I was with them. I visited my little sister at college in Colorado where she introduced me to her new life, her friends, her favorite restaurants and hiking spots. For the first time, I visited my baby sister as an adult. It was strange, but wonderful. In San Francisco and Los Angeles we did allofthewedding things, crossing off seemingly endless tasks, making the whole getting married thing feel all of a sudden, very real. We spent time with family, we all shared an epic Easter Feast. We wine tasted. We felt the sun again, and ate so many avocados. I felt sad to leave, it was so incredible being home. And yet…this is precisely my problem. Every time we go home, it is always so good. And I fear (perhaps irrationally) that when we return, that will somehow end. There’s this perfect medium here in Europe. We get to live abroad, constantly exploring new places, enjoying the constant state of different and when we do visit stateside? It’s so special. Life just feels so balanced in all the best ways, and though, finding that balance back in the states will likely happen, I can’t help but want to hold on tight to this life we’ve formed here. I didn’t used to love living here, the first few months, Dublin and I did not get along. But now? Now it’s home, or one of them at least, I want to hang onto it for as long as I can.