October 29, 2008

How many places can be considered home?

I'm sure everyone can relate to the feeling of missing someone or someplace - even people that have lived in the same town their entire lives have probably seen their friends pick up and move away, or have seen their town drastically change before their eyes to the point where it's not the same place anymore. But for those of us who have chosen to leave our home countries, I think there's a different kind of missing friends or places. Sometimes it's like this yearning, where I feel a certain something - a bad mood, a good mood, whatever - but I know exactly what would be perfect. And that exact thing is say, my favorite bar in Brooklyn with a good friend who speaks exactly the same way I speak, who will never say "what?" if I say something kind of slang-ish. Or if it's my favorite bar in Philadelphia, it's ordering a lager and not having the bartender say "what kind?" because in Philadelphia there is only one beer you get when you order a lager. My old bike is still in Philadelphia, being watched over by the same friend that was there to say goodbye to me just a few hours before I left to move to Europe this past April.

A good friend of mine from Brooklyn got in touch with me the other day to excitedly talk about holiday plans, and I had to say "oh, I'm sorry, I haven't told you yet - I'm not going home for the holidays, I'm staying in Europe." Instead of feeling excited about the fact that I'm saving myself a ton of money and stress and making really fun travel plans to explore new places I've never seen before ... I felt kind of sad.

This past Sunday night, I had about 11 people over for dinner. Seeing my home filled with friends eating and drinking is my favorite thing in the world, and I am incredibly lucky to have made such good friends in such a short time. I am so appreciative that my phone rings and a friend on the other end is telling me about three different Halloween parties going on this Friday. Everything about my life right now is the best good luck story ever - I landed a great job that sponsors me to live exactly where I want to be, I ride my bike every single day, I have a fantastic apartment, amazing friends, etc. But I admit, I was in a bit of a funk for the past couple days. I started thinking, wait... now I have to get a haircut in Amsterdam? I always planned to get a haircut in New York. And what about a winter coat? The plan was to go to Beacon's Closet in Williamsburg for a winter coat! I've been dying for a new pair of 8 gauge earrings, and I've been buying my jewelry in the same place for past ten years - Infinite Body Jewelry on 3rd and South in Philadelphia. Obviously, there are winter coats and hair salons and earrings in Amsterdam. But - that's not the point! In my mind, a new winter coat, a haircut, and a million other things (like a real onion bagel) were waiting until I was back in New York.

Now is missing out on any of that really so bad? Of course not. My life is comfortable and happy, I'm going to get some much-needed travel time over the holidays, and I'm absolutely sure this funk will pass. But I wanted to write about it anyway, because it's all part of keeping this blog and talking about my life in Amsterdam. I don't forget how fortunate I am every day for everything that has gone right in the past six months - but that doesn't mean that I'm immune to some elements of homesickness. I feel so wonderfully at home in Amsterdam that I don't even want to think of leaving... funny how that's possible. To love where you are, but be wishing to be somewhere else at the same time.


Karen said...

I'm beaming you love from South Jersey.

Bicyclemark said...

in my experience it is essential to go see your family as often as possible. while some of us are so busy in a different country with all our pals and activities.. our families are aging... and you dont get that time back. One of my greatest regrets, and I do mean regrets, is that Im not there to have lunch on sunday with my parents in these golden years when theyre healthy and so interesting to talk to.

my point. beg, borrow, steal, but go home often. time is not on our side.

Another American Expat said...

Thanks Karen. :) your couch is another place that will always feel like home!

Mark - I'm going to keep my eye on special offers during February and March, when tickets are cheaper. Fortunately I have the time to take off (such a huge advantage to working here rather than the US) if I find a great deal... that really helps.