I’m going all rogue here and choosing two things. They are, in a sense, rather nontraditional reminders of home. I present my camera and my phone.
When I met my Rugby Star in 2005, I had already spent two and a half years in the sunny Caribbean and a year in Kuwait. It was an amazing adventure that I had done (mostly) on my own. And, like any first-time traveler off on an adventure, I bought and bought and bought from those countries- no one back home had seen the likes of handmade t-shirt rugs being crafted on the side of the road (wait, was that one of my sorority shirts?), the colorful paintings of fruits and oceans, Turkish rugs made from grain sacks used a hundred years ago, camel everything, photos of mosques and beautiful Middle Eastern women, covered head-to-toe except for their heavily make-uped eyes. By the time I met the Rugby Star, there was hardly room in my little apartment for him to sit, much less put any of his own things.
But he did bring his own things… and then we acquired more things. We traveled around the region buying more paintings, more rugs, more brick-a-brack to remind us of our adventures. And then we packed it all up and shipped it to Shanghai where, you can imagine, there was A LOT of stuff to buy. ‘Ancient’ Chinese stools, scrolls, tiny Terracotta Warriors, furniture, more paintings and just the general stuff you accumulate as you live.
Then we packed it all up and shipped it to Guatemala. Rinse, lather, repeat.
It was at this point we got a little tired of our stuff. We had stopped being amazing by the traditional (tourist) artifacts in each new place we lived or visited. We made the grown-up decision to take everything home and leave it in Georgia. We would start anew in Bahrain.
So we landed in Bahrain the way we arrived in our first teaching posts- with a couple of suitcases (we also had two dogs and a kid… things that were not present when we started). I didn’t bring any picture frames or the Christmas ornaments or any of the red rugs that had been in every bedroom I’d lived in since Kuwait. We brought only what we needed to keep the Ladybug mildly amused until we could buy her more stuff and our clothes.
And I brought my camera. At the time, it was filled with summer photos- beautiful friends with gorgeous babies, hugs, smiles, laughter and the warm Georgia sunshine. I took more photos and shared them with my family ‘back home,’ and they did the same. In time, I got myself one of those new-fangled iPhones and now I can take a picture whenever and share it immediately. Whenever I’m missing my kids while I’m at school, I can pull out my phone and see them or hear them. When I travel, the Rugby Star can text me cute pictures of what they’re doing while I’m gone.
And when I’m really, truly homesick, missing the changing leaves or the spring or just being able to jump in the car and visit my sister or my dad or my BFF’s or my family, there is always texting. I can shoot off a quick, “Hey, how’s it going” to any number of people and, if it’s not the middle of the night, I get a quick reply back. Sister and the Ladybug send silly face texts back and forth. BFF with three babies sends videos of her kids doing adorable things like giggling and dancing in truck beds. BFF with two kids sends ‘I miss you’ messages and photos of the destruction her little one is capable of creating.
It makes me feel like I’m home.
So no, I’m not cuddling my phone or my camera. But they are constantly with me and they remind me that, even though ‘home’ is a bunch-of-thousand miles away, it’s not really so far.