It was a long long day yesterday, with various other travel (travail) adventures, but by 10 PM I finally made it to my brother’s house. The benefit of this was going to bed at a normal sleeping hour and then waking at a normal waking hour. Most of the day was spent lounging on the couch with various children watching Christmas specials on television. I took a walk in the evening (there was sunlight after 3:30 PM!) and it was a bit bizarre to be walking down streets lined with palm trees and needing only to wear a sweatshirt. A man standing out on his porch startled me when he called, “And how are you today, young lady?” I walked around a pond that had a sign warning against approaching alligators, and later found a tennis ball by the tennis courts and bounced it while walking past enormous Charleston row houses. The house I live in could fit at least twice, if not three times, inside my brother’s house. Just a vastly different concept of space.
I know I have only been away for a day or two, but already I am missing Scotland. After much deliberation, I wrote on the customs form on the plane that my country of residence was the UK. I have lived there for over a year, and will live there for at least three more — it is where I live now. I’m sad that I will miss the last Sunday of Advent at my church tomorrow, that I’ll miss upcoming movie nights and tea times and walks in and out of town. I am glad to be here, to see family again and soon to see my best friends who are like family; this sense of “missing” something means that I have made a home there, in that town by the sea, for you cannot miss something that you have not loved. And like Russell said in the movie Up (which I watched on the plane), “Sometimes, it’s the boring stuff I remember the most.”
And sometimes it’s the most mundane things you find yourself doing, like trying to switch on the bathroom light from outside the door rather than inside, that remind you that you came from someplace “different” after all.
I am here, but I will be coming back. True voyage is return — but which direction is going, and which returning?*
* Perhaps the answer lies in Le Guin’s Always Coming Home?