Something New in the Air

Posted on October 31, 2011 by Vivi in VIVI'S VIEW

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.

10 Comments

  1. The best thing about leaving the great USA is returning. You will never forget the friends you made in Buenos Aires and they will be forever dear friends. You won’t forget the food either. When you get back to USA it will be as if you never left and you will wonder why you did. The carefree life and freedom we experience in the US is like no other. Argentina is a wonderful place to live but life is tough and the economic uncertainty can cause a bit of anxiety……lol. I have strong ties & travel freely and often between both countries (wish they were not so far apart).
    I enjoy your blog and wherever you go, I hope you keep it going. When you return to Argentina, let me know….the most fun is having friends from the US to speak our language.

    Happy travels to you and thanks for your very entertaining blog.

  2. That was a beautifully written post. Is this just a visit, or a return for good??

  3. Powerful post Vini ~

  4. Love you big sis <3 I can't wait to see you again!!

  5. I’m fascinated by dreams and loved to hear about the variations of yours and your interpretation. I really enjoyed how you layout an ex-pats plight of home vs “home”. So relate-able! This post from a girl who put her hands on her hips and said she wasn’t a ‘real’ writer. Whatevs- what a terrific writer you are!

  6. I hope your visit home is wonderful (eat cheese for me please!!) and your return to BA goes without a hitch. So many more cafes that need our review!

  7. Wow! I recently went back to the US after 2 years of not having visited and it was quite a powerful experience. It was great re-connecting with my past and all the things I used to love so much. But I also realized that I had changed a lot. I remember clinging to my mom, sobbing “Don’t make me go back! I hate Buenos Aires!!” :)
    It’s hard to be an expat and have your life in different places of the world, but it’s also a very beautiful thing! Have fun and take advantage of your time back home :)

  8. Good thing that you only return after 2 years. I moved to England from Germany for 4 years and I never got used to living in the UK, because I always went back to Düsseldorf for term break every 3 months. And still, I always had the powerful feeling of having changed too much to pick up my old life. I neither stayed abroad nor did I return home, I’m living in Berlin now which is the least German city in the country. I wouldn’t stand it in Düsseldorf. Or in England for that matter.

    If you enjoy your life in BsAs now, then don’t let yourself get drawn into your old familiar life too much. Just decide upfront what you want to do and stick to the plan no matter what … else you’re only going to confuse yourself and enjoy BsAs less when you return, unnecessary if you really want to come back after your visit. I’m sure you’re going to be fine though :)

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