I recently spent almost two months back in my hometown of Miami (because I’m not a very good expat). I got to see all my favorite people in the world, eat Cuban breakfast more times than I can count, and even did a little bit of traveling.
The feeling of home
Going back to Miami, especially after a grueling sickness-inducing trip to Peru, was a breath of fresh air. All the things I love were even better than I remember. It felt great to drive my car after such a long time. I got to go to the beach, something I lack in the Czech Republic. And it’s always so recharging to make dinner and hang out with friends until the wee hours and to paint with my mom and play with my dog.
Even all the things I hate – the weather, the traffic, the people in general – get sweetened with a tinge of nostalgia. It’s both exciting and comforting to be back in the neighborhoods I know, my favorite hangouts, surrounded by the fantastic people I’ve been cultivating around me since I was in grade school.
And every time I leave home, I do so with a heavy heart. Because I know there are people I love that I won’t see again for months. I know there are birthdays and births and weddings that I’ll miss when I’m away. But home always feels like home because no matter how much I miss while I’m away, I’m always welcomed with open arms, a cold drink, and home-cooked plate of food.
As much fun as I had in Miami, like I always do, I also felt the same sense of excitement and comfort when I was getting ready to come back home to Prague. Because Prague has become home in ways Miami can’t be.
Returning to my second home
Over the past two weeks, two friends of mine in Miami have been embroiled in a drawn out drama with their landlord who won’t return their security deposit. That kind of thing is the reason I hated living in Miami. By contrast, a couple of days before I returned, my landlord texted me to see if I needed a ride from the airport. I came back to the apartment to find that he got me a comfy office chair because he thinks I’m uncomfortable working on the dining room table.
And those small things also feel like home. Knowing that I’m not returning to some shitshow, but to warmth and kindness and simplicity. Knowing that I can hop on public transport at the airport and tram 22 will drop me off at my doorstep and that tomorrow I’ll cook myself my favorite breakfast with fresh bread and eggs in a kitchen I don’t have to share with anyone in an apartment I picked for myself.
When I was leaving the airport today waiting for the bus to the city, I sat down next to a lady who must have seen how exhausted I looked, so she glanced at me and said “only 4 minutes.” But she said it in Czech, assuming I spoke it, because I think she could see that I had just come home.
The perks of having two homes
When introverts have been around people for too long, they need alone time to decompress. Though I’m generally both an extrovert and an introvert in equal measure and intensity, my two homes nurture both sides of me. There wasn’t a minute I spent in Miami where I wasn’t driving around, seeing my friends and family, making plans and staying out all day long. It’s part of the reason I neglected my blog so much while I was there. Because I had breakfast plans and dinner plans and between meal plans and I was driving to the Keys, and having drinks, and hanging out on my friend’s couch playing with her 3-year-old. And I loved every second of it, but it was exhausting.
Back in Prague, I can be my quiet, introverted self. Even though I already have plans with the boys, my social calendar is not nearly as demanding here. I have more time for me. I write more and stay in just to enjoy my own company. I keep my apartment neat and I don’t have to live out of a suitcase. And I have my bed with 50 pillows on it just how I like it. I’m more reserved and observant so I’m more inspired. And if I get bored, I can take a day trip to Germany or Austria or go to France for the weekend.
It’s like living a double life, one I can switch out every couple of months. And since I never stick around too long, I never get tired of home, and I never take it for granted.