A storm is pummeling the coast of my country as I write this. The wind and the water, whips my home, where I have been back living in for one year. My gutter went wayside, the bottom of it flying across the back yard. Instead of getting it, I stare at it the white metal, rolling around from out my back window. It was the quietness of rainstorms such as these that I loved most about Munich. Days I could plunge into my writing. Living in the city, I had an interesting view from our apartments living space, which had glass for walls facing the tram lines and a restaurant. Were the people meeting below at the restaurant on their first date? I often wondered. It distracted me, but not as much as repatriating and being home does. I suppose I never took full enough advantage of the fact that I had a quarter of the responsibilities I now have, back on my own turf.
In Munich, we had a rented apartment, free weekends to travel and soak in the vibes of different countries and cities. It was all a temporary, and unsustainable of course, lifestyle planned for a short time. But I knew we had to find ways to replicate even the smallest bits upon moving back home. Am I always successful at it? No.
You see, the thing I knew all along is that moving back would mean so much less time, personally and as a nuclear family. After our repatriation, we bought a house, which we are still working hard to renovate. We fell into the multiple American-activities-for-kids-world; the only way kids actually see their friends. Neighborhoods are not what they used to be and we have to drive everywhere. We said good-bye to bike rides and picnics in the park on the weekends which we so admired, and hello to busy Sundays, where games are on and stores are open. There is no real day for rest; one change which my heart sunk over.
During my years abroad, I was privy to what was happening with my family back home. This meant both the good and bad. I will never forget the feeling when my grandmother went into surgery. Would I ever see her again?
I knew that coming home meant that my life would change. Although I yearned to be near my loved ones again, I felt in a sense, that I would be out of “time.” Although my stay alone in Munich was often marred by loneliness, I had also come to love this certain space in life, where I was mostly free, that soon life would go back to the “same old things.” But perhaps, it does not need to feel like this.
I began to wonder – how do you balance helping and being there for family (especially when you hold a whole lot of guilt for missing them for some years) and yet still be true to yourself? Still stay the writer and person I had grown to be, still be the tight knit nuclear family we had become when all we that had was one another? How could I revamp life to some sort of “normal” again. But a different normal? One that now suits me and my family now. How can I reserve the energy to pursue the things I most desired when this move and repatriation seems to have burned me out?
The answers do not come easy. Every day is still a challenge. In passing moments, I lose pieces of my former life – from habits formed in other places to freedoms to new worries in my home society, which is so different than it was four years ago, to fitting in and making new friends.
Repatriation should not mean you leave pieces of yourself on the wayside, blowing in the wind, listless, at its mercy.
You likely have grown stronger, different, more focused on what is important for your life and how to communicate who you are or you could be completely and utterly more confused than ever. Use it. Use all of it. We cannot lose the momentum we have gained. Don’t leave your new self on the wayside, just because you are back in a place that is comfortable and familiar. Harness it. Focus. We’ve got this.
Author: Nitsa Olivadoti
Nitsa Olivadoti chronicles her thoughts and experiences from life abroad on her facebook blog Bridge the Divide, stories which are currently being complied into her upcoming book with the same title. Nitsa is fascinated with the voices of growth and migration and is the author of the Cicada Series: Cicada’s Choice, Cicada’s Consequence and Cicada’s Closure, novels based on her favorite Triangle: her Greek grandmother.