Going Home

Today I got my information regarding winter break in New York. I’ll be going home on December 19th and returning January 5th.

Watching tonight’s episode of Glee, I was suddenly struck by a big bout of homesickness. It was during “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” I think I first heard the song last winter, and thinking about last winter, I realized that it was actually a really excellent time in my life. I have these memories – a snowball fight with my family in Rockville Center at about 2 am on Christmas morning; wading in the Atlantic Ocean all the way out in East Hampton late at night on New Year’s Eve; spinning fire in Central Park after the park had closed; walking through a foot of snow in Sunset Park to get to a friend’s house where Bikram Yoga and hot chocolate spiked with cinnamon schnapps were waiting – something about last winter, in retrospect, makes me really miss New York, and all the friends and family that I have there.

I think it’s because every other part of the year I’m active and doing things, going out, barhopping, skateboarding, walking around, hanging out outside – but winter is all about quality time with quality people, it’s more of a family and close friends time, because I don’t want to leave the warmth of my house unless the circumstances are truly special.

And there’s a certain amount of sadness, knowing that I’ll only be in NYC for two weeks, and then after that I’ll be in Georgia for another six months. Knowing that I don’t have a plan after July 2011, that I might stay in Georgia another year, or go to Korea, or maybe somewhere else entirely. Knowing that a phase of my life is essentially over, that I may never again live in New York City, and even if I do circumstances would have to be very, very different.

My roommate says that homesickness kicks in right around break. He says that going away for three months is nothing, but coming back and knowing that you’re here for another six is the real hard part. He may be right. After two weeks in New York City, I won’t be tired of it yet, and then I’ll be coming to Georgia knowing exactly what I’m coming back to, knowing exactly what I’m in for, and it will be difficult.

I’ve made some really excellent friends here. Two of them in particular are not renewing their contracts in Georgia and will be leaving after January, and even though I’ve only really spent a few days with them here and there, I feel like I’ve known them for years. I’m going to go to New York, and come back, and things will be a little bit different here. Life is change.

Two of my best friends from back home have already informed me that they won’t even be in the city for the time that I’ll be there. I’ll be sad to miss them.

I’ve told myself that this time in Georgia is no different than if I’d spent a year abroad in college, or if I’d gone to college far away from where I lived. I’ve definitely gone a year or two without seeing several of the people who I now consider some of my best friends, and we’ve all changed, but when I see them again I have a great time. Intellectually I know that even if I’m gone for two years, I won’t lose touch with these people, and we’ll still get together when we can, and I could still in theory pick up right where we left off.

It’s still going to be a little bit heartwrenching to see all of these people once or twice and then fly off across the world again. I wish I could take them with me.

I also know that I’ll miss Georgia when I’m in New York. I’ll wonder what my Georgian friends are doing. I’ll miss the TLG people who I’ve befriended. I’ll worry about things changing in my absence – since stability seems hard to come by in Georgia – and I’ll worry about how my apartment is doing, how my students are doing, whether everything will be okay when I get back. I’ll crave some of the basic comforts of Georgia – quick commutes to anywhere I need to be, stores close by, cheap everything, a lot of empty space and free time, and the isolation of being surrounded by people who effectively cannot communicate with me. I’ll miss the personality of Georgia. I’ll have two weeks of reverse culture shock.

But worst of all, I think, is that two weeks won’t be enough time to do everything, but I’ll try anyway, so I’ll be constantly on the move. I won’t have time to think about anything, to soak it all in. I’ll tell the same stories to many different people. I’ll spend hours just getting around New York City. I’ll feel guilty for leaving it all behind so easily. It’ll be a hectic two weeks in New York – I’ll feel more like a tourist than a native. Basically I worry that I won’t be able to really relax and recharge, that all my recharging will have to be in Georgia.

But we’ll see. It’s an odd collection of feelings. I just know that I’ll go to NYC and be reminded of all the good things and all the bad things, and my emotions will be all over the place, and then before I even have time to settle in I’ll be gone again.

Sometimes I wish things were different. New York is an incredibly hard place to be sometimes, and yet almost everything in the world that I really love or care about is there. Maybe someday I’ll figure out a way to make peace with New York, some kind of living arrangement that gets me what I need out of the place without also driving me insane.

I’m a little melancholy. I imagine the next month is going to be a rough one, full of intense highs and joyful reunions and a lot of soul-searching and tearful goodbyes and probably not a lot of boredom overall.

It makes me question everything I’ve done just a little bit. But that’s me – constantly reevaluating every decision, constantly trying to optimize everything in my life. I just hope I’m doing the right thing, that this experience of living in a foreign country is going to turn out well for me somehow, that I’m not just putting off doing something with my life for another year by hiding out in a remote mountainous oasis. I hope that I actually am where I am supposed to be.

Yeah… going home is definitely doing weird things to my psyche.

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2 Responses to Going Home

  1. Amanda says:

    So, I’ve dealt with many of these issues seeral times over the past 3 years. Yes, Florida is a lot closer than Georgia, but at times it might as well be a foreign country. I’m here, far away from so many of the people that I love, in a strange new culture that I’ve grown pretty fond of, but often thinkng of my home, comparing people, places and attitudes. Well, I’ve had 2 different types of experiences. The Scheduled type, where I had every day planned down to the hour, and the other extreme, where I planned nothing and enjoyed my vacation completely spontaneously, but left out an awful lot of people. I would suggest that you try to stay away from either of these extremes.

  2. Allison in Daejeon, soon to the be the world! says:

    Listen to your roommate. You and I don’t know each other, but I have had the great pleasure and honor of calling your roommate my friend; he is one of the best and brightest people I know. He knows what he’s talking about when it comes to travel and he’s not wrong that, while leaving Georgia for Christmas will be hard – going back will be harder.

    From my own experience, I would advise the following: 1) Don’t anticipate reverse culture shock – it’s rare when you’ve been away for such a short time and it just gets in the way of the stuff you want to do. 2) Make all kinds of plans, say ‘yes’ to everything and don’t even think about getting any rest. 3) Nap whenever possible, take your vitamins and tell every person you see how much they mean to you – it’s Christmas: what are you waiting for? 4) Return to Georgia with the same open mind and willingness to try that you had when you set out the first time; you won’t be gone long enough for anything to have changed but you. 5) Don’t worry if you’re doing the right thing; if you weren’t you wouldn’t be going back.

    Cheers, Best of the Season and an Excellent New Year!

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