Frustrated, comforted, distant, familiar, lonely, happy, uneasy, content. How can one person feel such a variation of contrasting emotions? Well I can second a guess that I am not the only expat who has had to navigate this rollercoaster during their summer break. It seems extreme, when I see it there in black in white, but I can honestly say that this is not an exaggeration, in fact I could probably add another half dozen adjectives, to describe my two weeks back home. I question myself constantly and upon my return to the land of sand I ask, when did finding the familiar comfort of home, make me feel so lost?
When I moved abroad 9 years ago, I was exited by the prospect of adventure and new opportunities. Yes there was moments of anxiety, that’s only natural, but I was ready to leave my little island and head into the sunset. I never fell out of love with Jersey, it was just the right time to try something new and I was safe in the knowledge that it would always be there to go back to. The forever home, the safe haven, the place of my childhood memories, my loved ones, sandy beaches and sunsets you’ll never forget.
It’s still all of those things and for a long time I still had the sentimental romanticism of my perfect postcard life there. The reality of trying to make that happen wasn’t inline with my fairytale and we knew a few years away could help us get there. As the years past and expat life became the catalyst to seeing a world past the 45 square perfect miles of home. Your hopes and dreams change, as do you.
Some people are adverse to change, some see it as a natural evolution, either way its inevitable in this life and how you cope with the cards dealt is completely up to you. We embraced it. Loved it. Challenged ourselves to see a new future, one that excited us and pushed this expat envelope a little further. So back in 2014 we found ourselves heading for the random corner of The Gulf, with no idea what to expect. Adjustments have to be made, thats obvious, but it wasn’t as hard as we had anticipated and a life was built here, which soon became less random and more normal.
I am lucky enough to get at least 2 trips back to Jersey each year, one to escape the heat and a Billy no Mates summer and the other to fully immerse myself in the festive season. I love going back. The contrasts of my life in the desert are vast, being able to take a proper deep inhale of fresh air, the greenery, the white sandy beaches, the old haunts that remain the same 20 years on. It’s a kaleidoscope for the senses and a reminder of a life that was, comforting, familiar, easy.
The relationships there as some of the most important in my life, those that have been cultivated for decades, part of memories you can never remake. The people who mean the world to me, are still very much attached to Jersey. My family, my rocks on The Rock, are part of me and forever will be. There is a real emotional investment when I go home. Yes its lovely to be able to walk around with the worlds best cup of coffee, have breakfast at my favourite seaside cafe, but the reason I go back is human not environmental and there lies the problem. Everything is heightened, because the pull back there is purely emotional, its based on love and love alone, so is it any surprise that I then find myself feeling a plethora of emotions?
This time I seemed to feel things so much deeper. Maybe because it was a shorter trip, maybe because I had a lot going on, maybe because it concluded on a big family occasion, whatever the reason I could not settle into it. Of course I was happy to be there and don’t get me wrong I had a wonderful time, but I was all over the place! For the first time I couldn’t fit in. I was frustrated by the pace of things, the fact that nothing changes, the attitudes are still the same. It felt like time had stood still and whilst that was lovely in one respect, at times I was irritated. I was busy, I saw as many people as I could, spent time with the family but there were moments I felt incredibly lonely. Standing in a room full of people, feeling completely out of place, I had nothing in common with the person stood next to me or had a conversation knowing the other person was no longer listening. My patience was non existent at times, which I was fully aware of and that annoyed me even more as I couldn’t understand why I was so on edge and behaving like an a nightmare. I was just off balance. I felt at home but not at home and craved the normality of Kuwait.
I know I just used Kuwait and normal in the same sentence but thats the reality of my life now. At the end of the 2 weeks, I had loved it but was ready to head back to a place where I felt at ease. When leaving Jersey, I got super emotional all over again, crying most of the morning, which isn’t like me, I’m usually ok knowing I’ll be back in 6 months, but this time was really hard. I can’t get my head around the unsettling way I felt being there and then the fact that I cracked like an egg leaving!? Who knows what that’s about but I felt like I was boarding the plane with not just my suitcases but a hell of a lot of emotional baggage to unpack the other end. I think we can safely say that going home isn’t as straight forward as it once was.
So back in sandpit for the last 2 weeks, I am firmly back into my routine and seeing my friends. As Hubs and I fell back into our weekend rituals, sitting at the marina drinking our coffees I said to him.
Is it odd that this feels more normal than us sat in Bean Around the World last week?
Is it odd that the chaos of LuLu feels more normal than the utopia of Waitrose?
Is it odd that I have better conversations this week on FaceTime than I did in person?
No, he said………..this is home and where you are you.