It’s hot as hell again. Not even a slight breeze to offer some relief from the sweltering, humidity-laced heat that hangs in the air. I don’t think I have stopped sweating since I left the air-conditioned hotel room in Kyoto yesterday morning. I sit here at my computer, my damp fingers on the keys, trying to form the words that will express the experiences I’ve had this past week, trying to finish all the half-composed stories in my head. But those words won’t come. Instead it’s the ones that describe how much I miss home right now, how much my heart aches for the familiar woods and the cool lakes and streams and flying down a trail on a bicycle, and, most of all, the fantastic group of people that I am lucky enough to call my friends and loved ones.
It’s been a long time since I’ve missed a place this much. Maybe I never have. For the past few years, I hesitated to even call anywhere home. Home was everywhere and nowhere, all at the same time, as I wandered and traveled and ran both towards something I was searching for and away from the things that caused me pain and disappointment and restlessness. And so, it comes as a surprise to most who know me to hear me say that I am homesick. I am known to many as a girl who never sits still, the one who is hard to keep track of, whose pictures and Facebook posts from far-off places elicit regular proclamations of vicarious-living through me.
It’s a strange territory, this feeling. And I’m having mixed emotions about it. A bit of frustration about not being entirely able to always live in the moment, something I fervently believe in as a key to happiness and a full existence. A little guilt because most people never get opportunities like this, and a part of me feels wrong for ever wishing to be anywhere but here when my friends tell me how jealous they are. But along with these thoughts that keep me up at night when I should be sleeping but my world back home is awake, I am also comforted by my feeling of belonging somewhere and with someone, a feeling that has been a stranger for quite some time. I’m excited about my realization that there is something to be said for a place that is so familiar that you begin to notice all the subtle changes, a place you can look at and see so deeply that you notice all the endless nooks and crannies yet to be explored, a place that, after all this time, still offers new adventures and things to learn and people to meet and experiences to be had.
It’s been said that to travel and return is not the same as never leaving. Our experiences, the places we go and the things we do, shape us and change us and allow us to see familiar sights with new eyes, embrace familiar people with a new appreciation. My comings and goings have shown me that while it is wonderful and exciting and an essential part of my life to travel and see the world and discover distant lands, it also is just as wonderful to have a place and people and a life you are excited about returning to.
I am most definitely excited to return. Japan has undoubtedly been an interesting and fun and very different experience, but I’m growing weary of being gone, tired of being lonely, connected only by long emails and IMs and an occasional much-too-brief Skype call. I want to get back to a life that, despite it being my “everyday existence,” is anything but boring and ordinary. A life forged by love and hopes and dreams and shared adventurous spirits, a life that is nothing short of amazing.
3 more weeks.