The Trouble With Coming Home
When you come home after living abroad for a while, things are really strange. Your friends, who you’ve kept in touch with over Facebook, aren’t the same people anymore. They’ve grown. Sometimes they have gotten sadder. Their houses have changed and they want to celebrate their new curtains. You think of things in terms of how much things cost and how many times you could have paid rent with those curtains.
You know that you’ve changed. They’ve expected you to change. They’ve expected you not to know who the contestants on The Bachelor are this year. But they haven’t expected you to be different. They haven’t expected you to not like watching TV anymore.
Wherever you were, you were free. You didn’t have to hide your reaction to how weak Starbucks coffee tastes now. You didn’t have to hide your outrage at how much fresh fruit and vegetables cost. You were celebrated for your high standards of restaurants, instead of getting the eye roll from your friends that your old favourite place no longer holds a candle to your tongue’s new power. That $23 for lunch is a ridiculous concept that would feed a family for a week in some countries. You order tea instead, and feel like you are insulting them.
You don’t feel free. You feel trapped. You feel like you need to have answers about what you’re going to “do” with your life now that you’re back and “settling down”.
That’s the worst part about being back. The comparison. The show. The fact that people feel like they have to tell you things about their lives to make themselves feel better. The game of look, I’m happy too. I don’t mean people who share their lives, their experiences. I mean the ones who really feel so insecure about themselves that they tell you about their great mortgage rate and how they “would” travel but they would prefer to invest in themselves where they can see the money instead.
People don’t understand that buying things doesn’t make you happy. They don’t know what its like to live with nothing. They don’t understand what it’s like not to have a plan from one day to the next.
They expect you to “settle in” and get a routine and a “real job” because that is what people do.
But you can’t.
The worst thing about coming home is that you know the secret to life and you can’t tell anyone. You can’t tell them because it would rip open their world from one side to the other and expose all the secrets that they swallow when they sleep.
You expected reverse culture shock. But you didn’t expect to be forbidden from talking about it, misunderstood, silent.