This past year was the longest I’ve been away from home in one shot, and now I’m back for the holidays. A lot of expats and travelers wax philosophical about the emotional and existential pitfalls of returning home after a long time. About how different they feel as a person, having grown so much, and how little they relate to their friends now, settled with family into adulthood. They talk about the strangeness of returning to your childhood home, interacting with people you haven’t seen in months or years, seeing the places you used to frequent.
This is not that.
This is about the neverending consistency of home. This is about how home still feels exactly like it did the last time you left it, no matter how much has changed or much time has passed between visits.
This is about getting in your best friend’s car at the airport after a year away and going “Hey bitch.” And she prepared you a tupperware of homemade chili because of course she did. And your mom is texting to ask what you want for dinner so she can have it ready when you arrive. And your dog is off-the-wall excited to see you for like 10 minutes, but then settles next to his favorite person in the house like he always does.
And all of it feels the same as ever.
Even the frustrating things about home are somewhat comforting because they’re so familiar. Like how the airport is huge, inefficient and filled with people who have no concept of personal space. How horrible the traffic is at all hours of the day and how fucking rude and aggressive drivers are. How my family can’t go a day without questioning my life choices. How unpredictable and unpleasant the weather is and how shitty my hair looks 24/7 in this climate.
I got home to a year’s worth of mail to sift through, an expired driver’s license, and a totally dead car. And that’s fine because I know exactly who to call to take care of it, and they’ll drop everything and be here the same day to help me out. Because at home, my people are always as reliable and helpful as always.
Before I even have time to wrap Christmas gifts , I have to go to DMV, fix my car, and drop a couple hundred dollars. And it’s stressful and annoying. But isn’t that how it always is? Visiting home will never feel like a vacation. It will always feel like home, where you have errands to run, and a million social commitments, and you sort of wanna kill everyone all the time. But your people are always there to make it not only bearable, but downright enjoyable.
Sure, some friends have bought a house or given birth or switched careers, so nothing is exactly the same. But it feels like it is. At the end of the day, we’re going to spend $30 on cheese and wine at Trader Joe’s and the fact that we’ll enjoy it in a different house won’t make that much of a difference. My mom friends are still gonna plant their newborns on my lap and start cleaning the upstairs bedroom like they always do, even if it’s a different baby than it was last time.
Like every year, we’re gonna get together for Chinese food and board games on Christmas and get day drunk on bottomless mimosas on New Years Day and have a Friendsgiving dinner that I force on everyone at random times of the year. But mostly, we’re gonna spend countless hours trying to coordinate when everyone has time to get together, getting delayed by traffic or meetings that ran long or appointments that started an hour late, because that’s what home is like.
And it feels exactly like I left it. Like an aggravating nightmare full of love and laughter.