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Not Going Back (This Year)

Okay, let’s start again.

This year I’m not going back.

When I typed that sentence the other day, intending to write about one thing, it spiraled off onto another tangent. That happens.

Since my writing muse was not only on speaking terms with me but appeared to be hunkered down for a full-fledged chitchat, I went with it. (If you missed it, the resulting post was Back Home?)

Today I’m back to writing what I’d initially set out to share: I won’t be going back ‘home’ for a visit this year.

Adventurers may recall that I’ve been here in Nederland for a little over two years now. In that time I’ve returned to the US twice: an unscheduled visit for a family medical emergency a few months after moving here, and last summer for what I refer to (at least in my head) as the ‘epic saga of an expat family trying to cram far too much into far too long’.

It was six weeks of living out of suitcases as we traversed the Eastern seaboard visiting universities (Son), attending a couple specialized summer camps and training sessions (Daughter), working a month at a youth summer camp (Son), catching up on medical/dental appointments (various), getting away by ourselves for a few short days (Husband and me), checking up on/spending quality time with elderly parents (Husband and me, separately at different times), and visiting myriad other family/friends (all of us, in dizzying combinations).

Seriously, it was a matter of waking each day asking myself a litany of questions: where am I, in which city/town and state, which family members are with me, where are the others, where am I going next, and so on. A real life version of the old Steve Martin/John Candy comedy movie classic ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’.

This year, for several reasons, we won’t be making a trip back. It isn’t that I don’t want to; I do. But as with any family, we have to balance wants and needs with time, funds, other responsibilities.

Son heads off to college back in America next month; next summer will be crucial for Daughter’s university search. We wanted to take a special family vacation last month celebrating Son’s high school graduation precisely because we know the days of traveling as our four-member nuclear family are dwindling. 

Fortunately, several members of my family were able to visit us this spring, and while I’d love to see my sister’s family and other relatives, it just isn’t in the cards this year.

A number of friends exhibited surprise that we wouldn’t be making what I suppose in their minds is automatically viewed as a mandatory trip home. For some people, it may well be. But for us, this year, it isn’t.

I thought I was okay with that. My rational mind understands the various reasons and competing priorities; I accept full responsibility as I was party to the decision-making.

But as I gaze wistfully upon photographs of good times with great friends, family members I haven’t seen in ages, and places that are meaningful to me, I cannot help but feel that I am missing something. Missing out.

Two years is a long time to go between visits. A year is a long time to wait. 

Image credit: Salvatore Vuono portfolio 659 freedigitalphotos.net

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