It’s been months since I’ve sat down with the intention of writing for the sake of writing. Of course I write things. Emails, texts, Instagram captions, snail mail, work reports, to-do lists. Things that don’t require vulnerability.
Avoiding putting the chaos in my mind down on paper has been a form of denial. Once written, it’s real. Once posted, there’s no hiding behind the façade of having it all under control. Keeping my thoughts and emotions to myself and a few close confidantes is how I’ve dealt with this roller coaster of confusion called repatriation.
I didn’t think it would be so difficult to move ‘home’. The problem is I don’t know what ‘home’ means anymore or where it is. Is it Seattle where I lived for five years prior to London? Is it Oregon where I grew up until leaving for college? Is it London where I came into my own over the past two years?
When I made the choice to move back to Seattle, it was the best decision for me with the information I had at the time. I missed my family and wanted to be closer to them. My company was willing to create a custom role for me back at headquarters, they even let me write my own job description. My friends were eager for me to return and I missed them, too. All logical signs pointed towards moving back as the smartest option.
However, as the months marched towards my leaving date of July I felt less and less confident in my decision. Intuitively, something felt off. The juxtaposition of logic versus emotion manifested into insomnia, stomach pains, and lots of tears. Of course I wanted to be closer to my family, but I’d never been happier or more comfortable in my own skin. London wasn’t perfect, but it gave me so many things I wanted out of life. Amazing friendships. Monthly trips to new destinations. Exposure to new cultures and constant personal and career growth. To top it off, during the final months of my London adventure I recognized that the perfect guy was right in front of me and had been my loyal partner in travel and expat life for the past year.
My lovely London friends said, “Just stay!” like it was that easy. But expats understand once the wheels are in motion to repatriate there’s no stopping the train. My UK visa was set to expire, my new job back at headquarters wasn’t going to wait forever, and I truly missed my family. I owed my original decision a chance.
So here I am, four months into this experience dubbed repatriation. Most days I wonder if I’ll ever feel as happy as I felt in London. Fortunately, I have friends like Shirley and Zahra who let me vent while they patiently listen. Then they give me a pep talk and tell me this is part of the process. I’m right where I’m supposed to be. If I hadn’t returned, I wouldn’t appreciate all that London gave me. I would be back in England bemoaning the tube and the crowds and lack of decent Mexican food. I’d be wondering if staying was the right decision, just as I’m questioning my decision to return. I wouldn’t be able to visit my family monthly in Oregon or take that epic road trip with my dad to 7 national parks in 14 days. I wouldn’t have moved in with a wonderful friend who has opened her home and life to me while I’m rediscovering Seattle.
After a lot of reflection and overanalysis, I’ve concluded my current emotional state can be chalked up to some form of grief mixed with uncertainty about the future. I’m mourning my London life. I’m questioning what path to take next. Most of all, I’m torn between logic and emotion. I’ve never rebelled against the most logical decision. Maybe it’s time to mix things up and follow my intuition for a bit. Here’s to figuring out what’s next for this lady.