It’s raining in Marlow, nicknamed the “Icebox of New Hampshire”, and I am devastated.
Winter has come, but the snow is refusing to fall in the ICE BOX OF NEW HAMPSHIRE! Pure malarkey for a snow-crazed New Englander such as myself.
But tragic winter mishap aside, it’s simply wonderful to be back home after a year spent in Bratislava, though I fear I carried the unusual winter warmth of Slovakia back with me on the rather haphazard flight home (3 hour delay, a troop of angry Bostonians, etc.)
Apologies to all of those hoping for a white Christmas; I’ve seemed to have lost my frosty touch. And during the days leading up to Christmas, when I petered around the kitchen, spending much too long reacquainting myself with the cutlery drawer and dribbling faucet and the black hole that is the spice cabinet, I realized I lost some of the familiarity of home too.
When you return to your home country after a year spent in a very different place across the ocean, you’re smacked on your confused face with a few truths you weren’t quite expecting.
And the realization that life goes on without you, that you don’t have the power to hit pause or rewind, hits the hardest.
It is one of the few finite rules of the universe; Life will always drive forward.
And at first, that’s a hard, sour-tasting pill to swallow.
But at second glance, it’s an opportunity to look at the place that sheltered your being for so many years in an entirely new light.
Since coming home, I’ve noticed that my dog Jenny, still as cuddly as ever, always barks at squirrels but never at birds. In fact, she’s mesmerized by their angular wings and colorful underbellies and quietly watches them in pure delight. I never really took the time to notice that before.
I’ve noticed that brother Brian is a jiggy ballroom dancer at heart, his happy feet propelled into prance mode by Ron Weasley socks and Amazon Alexa’s Christmas playlist.
I’ve noticed that my Mum’s British accent is not only an innate part of her personality but also one of the many qualities that makes her so endearing.
And I noticed that my dad, vice principal by day, police chief by night, is incredibly knowledgeable in his field. Riding along with him in his police cruiser while he spouted some cool police lingo was one of the highlights of my holiday break.
So when I return to Bratislava next week and start missing home and the loving people (and dogs) that make it a perpetually warm and cozy place, I’ll remind myself of something vital to solving the traveler’s deepest dilemma, the realization that trumps all others:
Life may continue to drive forward but there will always be a spot saved for me in the car, no matter how far and how long I decide to wander.