It is official. In 40 or so odd days, I will set foot back on my native land.
It will have been almost two years since I was last above the equator.
I’m going to see my family, my friends, my childhood home, my car, and the many other things I’ve left behind like a pair of skis, boxes of photos and bags and bags of clothes.
For the last few months I’ve been having a recurring dream. In my dream I arrive to my Grandmother’s home, where all of my old belongings are being stored. I rush to the closet under the staircase and drag out my boxes of old clothes. I unpack them as if they were Christmas presents. Sometimes in the dream all the clothes are shiny and new and unworn. Other times in the dream I try the clothes on and none of them fit and they are out of style. Once I dreamed that I washed all of them. Another time I didn’t recognize any of them.
I’ve had some variation of this dream at least ten times. I share it with you not only because of my fascination with Freudian dream analysis – but because I think it has become a symbol of the full range of emotions I’m feeling about finally returning to the US. I’m overwhelmingly excited and completely terrified. Emotions range from bliss, nostalgia, fear, guilt, worry and nausea. It is 40 days away and my stomach ties another knot with every day I’m counting down.
I don’t know what to expect when I return. Will everything be the same? Will it be completely different? I’ve followed US current events quite closely, and have one imagine in my mind of the current state of the States – with Guy Fawkes masked Occupy Wall Street protesters and another image from my friends and family of happy daily life with graduations and weddings, new roommates, boyfriends and job interviews.
I certainly won’t be the same when I return. I’ve grown up quite a bit. I’ve experienced life in ‘the third world’, I’ve learned to survive in a big city and I expect that everyone else will have changed and grown up as well. My little brother is almost finished with his graduate program, my baby sister almost half way through college and my parents most likely becoming quite comfortable with their empty-nester lifestyle.
I feel torn between my life in the US and the new one I’ve created in Buenos Aires. After almost two years, I’ve put down some roots. I found a job that energizes and challenges me. I’ve made meaningful friendships and expanded a social circle of acquaintances who I infinitely enjoy.
When I’m wandering the city I finally have the confidence of knowing where I am. The streets have become familiar; I’ve found my niches and I’ve learned the new system. My Spanish could use some work, but there are only so many hours in the day, you know?
Just when I’m feeling fine, I’m getting on a plane and returning to everything I left behind – my origins, my roots, my family. I’m frightened that I will be overwhelmed by the nostalgia of my pre-BA life that I will be incapable of returning to the life I’ve built here. I’m also terrified that I will be so different and disconnected that I’ll feel unable to re-assimilate. I’m not looking forward to having to justify and explain my decision to live abroad, or bear the load of guilt from well-intended requests to return. Yet I would be brokenhearted were I not to receive any. My psyche is swimming in irreconcilable juxtapositions.
Sometimes in my clothing dream, I try on my old clothes. Some of them fit wonderfully and I’m so happy to wear them again. Other outfits don’t fit and I realize I didn’t miss them and I no longer need them. I suppose that is my wish for returning – I will see how I’ve changed and realize that some things I keep, and other things belong with the past. I expect this trip back will be wonderful and most likely very emotional.
See you soon, USA.