I've been back in my hometown for about six weeks. I still feel like a visitor. I still feel like I have a flight I need to catch to go back, to go forward, to just go.
I don't. This is my present, and I am really struggling to figure it out. I have an amazing security net of people who love me and want the best for me. But, I don't ask for help--and usually don't want it. Is this stubborn? Yes. Is this reality? Also, yes.
I read all the blogs about going back home after living abroad. I prepared myself for all of the scenarios. All of them. Except my own. I am back, but different. I am finding footing on a path that was. My tread is just a bit too cautious, my shoes don't quite fit, my hiking vest doesn't have enough pockets for all my new things. I'm living a life I don't know--an adult life in the world of my childhood.
I've visited places that once held magic only to find it replaced by something new, something tangible, something real. I went to my grandparents' house yesterday. After they died, we sold the land to the city because it was technically floodplains. The entire plot was overgrown with spiky flowers so opposite of my gentle grandfather. The giant oak tree loomed above, void of life; fairies used to call it home. Short grass covered the fire pit, the birthplace of Grandma's Magic. And, they paved right over the troll bridge. Who's collecting the tolls? No one. And, all the while the Rock River rolls along, seemingly unchanged.
I see myself in this. Everything about me is different, but there's gotta be a constant somewhere, right? Or, do I make a new constant, a new anchor I trust to keep me from floating away? I dunno.
I guess, right now, let these truths be an anchor, which holds me steady:
1. I have never loved anyone as much as I love my niece(s and nephew--honorary). Or, that's perhaps unfair. I have never loved anyone in the same way I love them. I will drive two and a half hours to babysit Sweet P. I am so excited to watch her learn and grow into whatever she wants to be. I will stop what I am doing to go to the park with my best friend's children. My heart can't even handle it when T chooses me to catch her at the bottom of the slide. I need to be here right now. That's all there is.
2. I miss teaching. Apparently, it doesn't matter if it is English as a second language, To Kill a Mockingbird, or the front crawl. Teaching is my passion, and I am lucky enough to be in a position to continue learning and studying how to do it to the best of my ability.
3. Women's active wear is expensive and limited in selection. I don't have time for that kind of nonsense. Give me a pair of basketball shorts and let's go.
4. My mom is probably the most amazing woman in the whole wide world, closely followed by my sister. Their capacity to take on way more than any person should handle and come through with an air of grace and poise inspires me. I am glad to spend this time together and learn from them as much as I can.
5. The path that was is not always the path that is, and that's okay. I've just got to adventure on.