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An Expat on the Inside

December 2, 2008

Normally, I can’t get enough of Michigan in December. I love the snow, the twinkling Christmas lights, the sweet little moments that are like Norman Rockwell paintings sprung to life. It’s all very Bedford Falls and I’m Jimmy Stewart (except the trying-to-kill-myself part).

But for some reason, the past few days, I have been engulfed, nay, vigorously assaulted with a wracking desire to go back to England and I feel like I am starting to lose my mind. It’s familiar to me, this desire of coming and going, but this time, it’s sticking around more than normal, constantly poking and prodding me, tempting me with its appeal.

When I lived in England for a semester during my junior year of college, I fell in love.

I loved drinking milky tea and going to pubs. I loved the rain and the green, green hills. I loved seeing the furry mounds of sheep on the side of the road and the lengthy process of taking trains everywhere. I loved the warm cheekiness of the people and the gentle coolness of the air. I loved hearing words like “brilliant,” “saucy” and “plucky.” And it wasn’t just because it was different…it was because it felt normal, comfortable to me. It felt like home.

The air, the scent, the taste of it all seeped into my blood, little by little, until I could hardly recognize where “home” was anymore. I suppose that’s the price of travel — “home” ceases to be a singular location once you have the courage to leave the first place that you ever identified in your heart.


It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.
JRR Tolkien
, The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring


But it’s beyond that — I feel a sense of familiarity and kinship in many places but I don’t want to live in all of them. But England…ah, England. Aye, I could live there.

So what is “home” then? Where your family is? Where your heart is? Where you hang your hat? The age-old adages just keep going and going, but none of them provide answers. Sometimes my family, my heart and my hat reside in three separate places. Either I’m a undiagnosed schizophrenic or “home” is a much broader term than previously thought.  I suppose I could see this as a blessing — if home is many, many places, then my life and where I make my own corner of the world can be unleashed of their limits.

It comes down to the simple fact that I will always be lonely for somewhere. I’ll be distracted and homesick and sizzling with wanderlust my entire life and at some point, attempting to fulfill each desire will wear me out and I will still be left without satisfaction. All of these are just symptoms, in a deeper, spiritual sense, of a longing that is sewn into our very DNA and that no amount of moving can ever satiate.


“If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
CS Lewis, Surprised by Joy


This isn’t so much a plan or a plea as it is a process. A process of figuring out this mystery of home and what the sense of it means. Does it mean moving, or just dealing with the separation pangs and continuing on? I don’t know. I’m not sure if I’ll ever know. The important thing is that I keep searching, keep learning, keep growing, keep wanting to always, always know more. I may not ever get to the destination in this life, but I want to get as far down the road as I can, and not waste a footstep.

For now, I will just look out my window at the blankets of snow and keep dreaming of the green, green hills.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Noelle permalink
    December 6, 2008 6:17 pm

    Honestly I think home is a psychologically invented notion so that people will feel a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day when they have somewhere to go and people to go to.
    Home is in your head. Thats why you feel that England is just as much your home as Michigan. Thats why SF is now my home, not Michigan. There are other factors, sure. Like where your parents and friends are. But can you imagine living in England? You would grow homesick. For Michigan.
    So in some cases home is what you long for most after being away for a little bit. Whether its the people you long for or the actual place.

    I don’t get homesick anymore in the actual sense of the word. I never long for any place that I may have used to live, it just goes away after a while. If i ever get something that resembles it, all it is is loneliness or I am sick of where I currently am.

    But anyways,
    I really don’t think home is anywhere, i think its in your head. You can make anywhere your home if you really want to.


  1. confessions of an anglophile « surprised by joy

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