On Coming Home
After living far away for two years on my own, I thought it would make me feel excited when it was time for me to come home. To see family and friends, return to my comfort zone, and experience the familiarity — but it turned out to be more complicated than that.
About two weeks ago, after I had submitted my thesis, I began preparing for my repatriation flight — it was a nightmare. I need to work out the flight schedule, send stuff via cargo(reminder: I haven’t gone home for two years, so it’s a lot!), figure out the PCR test schedule, do some paperwork, finding a suitable hotel for my quarantine, not to mention the cost I have to bear for all of that — In short, it is stressful.
But then I took a step back and realised another element underlying the stress: the feeling of uncertainties of going home.
Postgraduate study has always been my dream since I was in high school, but at the same time, it is also an “escape” for me. Two years in Australia has been an interesting journey. As I had to build my life from scratch, I realised that I needed to rely on myself at the end of the day. For the past few years, I have been more attuned to my inward self — of who I am and what I want to be — as a person. I realised that I like doing my own thing when I am on my own; in short, I don’t settle.
Hence, coming home means leaving that “good chapter” behind. Sure, there is no guarantee that the next chapter won’t be as good as this one, but it is also uncertain — and facing that is not easy. There were periods when I felt like I really wanted to come home. When I felt homesick or when I knew some people were waiting for my return (please come home used to be my favourite line). But it was temporary, and it was no longer there.
Yesterday, I read one of my friends’ posting where he bid farewell to his friend who is going home, and one line struck me hard:
“… they will feel the strangeness of returning to a place that isn’t quite how you left it. The strangeness of being able to see how much you aren’t quite how you left either”.
I had always known that things wouldn’t be the same as when I left it. I know that things will feel familiar yet unfamiliar. The streets which I haven’t passed by, stories that I haven’t heard of, or day-to-day life that I haven’t experienced in two years. Home might not be as quite the same as I thought it would be.
For two years, the thought of going home is to return to the life I used to have. But now I realised that there’s no such thing as “old life”. Just like how I have changed as a person, so did the idea of an ideal life that I have in mind. It means I need to rebuild my life according to that new concept. It is uncertain if I have the capacity to do so, let alone to achieve it. And to be frank, I am not ready.
Yet, life is about moving on. So ready or not, I am coming home.