We were somewhere over
This was my second attempt now to fly from
For the most part, I’d already taken care of the thoughts that most long-term expats experience while coming home the day or two before I was originally supposed to leave. And since I was now placed in Business Class, I was pampered and watching, “
Stretched out on the comfy seat, I was already in a bit of culture shock. This was all too nice, and I wasn’t ready for it. I had expected my reverse culture shock to start at home, but in the morning I was already invited to the VIP room, and there I sat like a pauper, stuffing food and drinks into my bag as other passengers left half eaten sandwiches on their plate, all from the complimentary buffet.
We descended and my heart rate jumped. My palms, sweaty and clammy, would not stay dry as I rubbed them on my jeans. My head ablaze with thoughts, one moment happy to be coming home, another moment silently freaking out. I knew it would not be easy. Simultaneously hot and cold, my body was just a mess. I expected mixed feelings, but not like this. 11 months is a long time to be away from home, after all, but I was not expecting this.
And then it was touch down. A smile would come and go quickly, then return and leave again as I walked through the terminal, through customs, and to pick up my bags. I anxiously snapped my fingers and moved around like a kid with ADD, a cross between excitement and fear. I’m back in the
After picking up my luggage I went across the airport to check in with American Airlines for my connection to
After running around the airport a few more times I finally had my boarding pass and was able to pass through security, though each minute here so far has just made me feel worse. I went to the Au Bon Pain to ask how much an apple was and the woman told me $1.18. I laughed and walked away. I’d rather go hungry. I hear conversations and feel almost sick. “So I was like, what the hell, and he’s all, whatever, and then they’re like…” Do we all sound this shallow?
Maybe it’s too soon, and I just need some more time to adjust. I have this layover in Miami before heading home to Boston, but I get a feeling that the layover will last much longer than that. Eventually I’ll feel right at home again, but I’ll never forget how I feel right now. I do not fit in here. And that means I don’t fit in anywhere. Luckily in three weeks I’m going back to South America, where I can at least be assured that I shouldn’t fit in there.
Yesterday, sitting at the pool in the hotel, I was watching the clouds moving back and forth like a school of fish floating with the current. It was beautiful. It was the same sky in Cuenca, and Miami, and Boston. And looking up at the sky right now, I know that some of my friends in Cuenca are walking down the street looking up at the same thing. It’s a big world, but it’s all connected some how. Yet it comforts me not at all to know that they are there looking at the same thing I am. Because they are there and I am here, and nothing will change that, not even the popcorn clouds in the sky. So the chapter of Ecuador has now been closed in my life, but like any good book, you can always go back and read it again. And like all good books, you never forget what you’ve read and learned. And the next step forward is a new chapter. The hardest part could still be ahead.