With less than three weeks left to go, the countdown has begun for the end of the school year, which can only equate to one thing for me: a much deserved VACATION! For the first time in over a year and a half, I will be headed back to the Motherland from Argentina with Fede on June 19th, but with one major difference this time to distinguish this trip from the others: Sebastian.
Though I am proud to return to the United States with my beautiful family that means so much, I am also returning older, wiser, as well as humbled from my last experience.
Going back to Ohio after having spent almost six years abroad has always been a big deal for me, and is always emotionally intense throughout. It’s understandable, I suppose, being thousands of miles away from “home” for so long would take a toll on most anybody. But for me, the sojourn back to my hometown and what used to be my life always smacks of nostalgia and reminiscence of memories past, not all of which are pleasant. The last time I was there, I was pregnant, off my medication, and suffering from a nervous breakdown. To say that it was a conflicting moment of immense contrasts is an understatement. It was a time of great anticipation and great dread. It was a time of celebration as much as it was a time of mourning. In the immortal words of Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
I sadly had to cut my last trip back to Ohio a few precious days short, as my emotional and mental state was deteriorating by the hour, and the only way that I could avail of help was to return to Buenos Aires where I had my medical history with different specialist and doctors and (most importantly) insurance coverage. Now that the storm has passed, I can fully acknowledge how lucky I was and how lucky I am that I have help available to me in Argentina that wasn’t the case in the place that I had thought of for so long as “home.”
It’s hard to spend time away and not come back to your place of origin without seeing it with different eyes, with a foreigner’s eyes. Living in the United States for a quarter of a century, I lived a relatively sheltered life, unaware of so much that was going on in the world around me, like so many of my fellow countrymen
It wasn’t until I left Ohio the last time that I experienced a profound awakening of sorts. I now realize how fortunate I am to have left the United States when I did. I also realize how much I have gained in exchange for living in a “third world country.” As much as I love my country of birth, I can’t help but find fault in it in ways that never existed pre-Exodus.
I still feel equal parts of sadness and resentment at times towards my country that I feel let me down and slip through the cracks of the economic crisis to begin with. It all just seemed so… avoidable. I shake my head at how caught up everyone seems to be with mindless consumerism. I am incredulous to how unaware these people are to the challenges and struggles of those in other countries and how painfully ignorant they are regarding what lies beyond the US borders. It genuinely makes me cringe with disappointment and a bit of embarrassment when I think of all the people in the United States, people who I actually know, who have no interest in exploring the vast world around them, who cannot see the benefits of getting out of their comfort zones and learning something new for a change.
But that’s just me.
But most of all, it was saddening that, despite all the people I knew and had made the effort to stay in touch with over the years in Cincinnati, they were nowhere to be found in my hour of need when I was experiencing my own personal hell. I ultimately wound up permanently severing some meaningful personal ties that I had tried so hard to maintain and sustain since I had left. It was paradoxically difficult, yet just felt natural and right to do (but more on that at another time).
Going back to the States this time around, I really do feel like a tourist. Apart from my immediate family, I’m not really there to visit or reunite with anyone. The fact is, so much time has passed and so much has happened that I no longer really think of the US of A as home. But I am not at the point when I feel as though I belong 100% in Argentina, either. “Neither… nor” (or as they say in Spanish, “Ni… ni” ).
So where do I really, truly belong? That, my friends, remains to be seen.