I feel a bit introspective on this one. The most obvious answer is that I left my family and my friends behind, both literally and figuratively. That first plane ride out of your home country- the one you make not knowing exactly when you’re coming back- is terrifying. It’s heart-wrenching and exciting and scary and overwhelming and just plain WOW-what-the-eff-am-I-doing-right-now-ing? My departure for the Dominican Republic felt a bit like a movie moment- watching my house disappear around the corner as we drove off to the airport, sadly looking out the window (if only it had been raining!), wondering when I’d see the lovely highways of Georgia again. Then hugging, crying, hugging, laughing, more crying at the airport. Looking behind as I walked to my gate, waving until the last possible second, the last glimpses of my family for who knows how long. As soon as I found my gate, I sat down and started texting friends who weren’t with me at the airport and even those who weren’t even out of the airport parking lot yet.
And since that life-altering moment, I’ve lost friends and I feel uncomfortable at family reunions. At first, it was all so exciting- everyone wanted to know what it was like: Where did I live? Does everyone speak English? My life in a foreign country was an adventure for everyone… for a while… Then people started tuning me out- I could see it in their eyes. They’d ask, but really, they didn’t remember what country I was living in or they didn’t even know where it was. Family nodded and ‘uh huhed’ when I tried explaining what I did for fun on the weekends in Shanghai or what my first experience with Lebanese food was like- answers to questions they’d asked. Friends told me tales of their day-to-days but forgot to ask about mine. And I slowly got used to it.
There is a saying about living life as an international teacher: Friends will listen to you talk about your life for about a minute before they tune you out. Your real friends will listen for two minutes.
|See you later, alligator…|
It’s just life, but my family and friends can’t relate anymore. They don’t know (most) of the people I’m talking about. They can’t visualize the school where I work or the home where I live. They have no connection to the country I’m describing, so they don’t really listen. They can’t really care. I left them behind to go on this adventure.
My life is like an endless slide show from Uncle Morty’s trip to Mt. Rushmore- all 763 slides- that no one wants to see.
This is not a self-pitying post, nor do I blame anyone for their lack of connection to my life. It is my life after all and I’m living it with three of the people that I love the most in the world (and two furbabies). It’s just the nature of the beast.
It’s funny, I was actually going to write about leaving behind my crippling fear of change- the family/friends thing was meant to be the introduction. I love not knowing where my writing will take me sometimes!