I’m about to board a 30-hour flight home, and it scares and thrills me in equal measures. In all the time I’ve lived in the UK, I’ve never been back home for the festive holidays and an upside-down Southern Hemisphere Christmas is thrilling.
As last minute decision booking the flight, telling my family and packing the essentials (ie. enough Jaffa cakes to last a fortnight) has been a whirlwind of emotion. Excitement at going home, sadness at leaving my boy & cat to get up to mischief without me, nervousness of flying to the other side of the world on my own, the fun of buying presents for my first baby Nephew, glee of booking a tour around a Matamata farm (ie. MiddleEarth), the anticipation of several mini-Christmasses and sand between my toes, the heavy-heartedness of not seeing my British family and overall gratitude that it’s possible to spend Christmas with my nearest and dearest.
I still can’t really believe it.
It’s also been too long since I hugged my Dad, drank coffee with my brother and harassed my poor sister the only way a sister can. It’s been much too long since I tasted my aunt’s baking, ate Toastie Pies with my best friend and bridesmaid, and shook my head with my brother’s girlfriend at the antics of their pet menagerie (and my brother is definitely included in that). It will also be too long apart from my crazy husband, nutso cat, watching my but lovely diminutive mother-in-law keep her mischevious boys in line, toast the Queen with my brother- and sister-ine-law and listen to Big Ben chime.
I think it’s safe to say that once I land I’ll be a cheerful, knackered ball of emotion ready for a real bed and the hugs of my family.
My good friend and fellow expat Yannick asked me how I thought I’d feel as the new me, compared to the old me who used to live in New Zealand and it’s a actually really difficult question to answer and played on my mine for days. Leaving aside the fact that I’m not entirely sure who me is anyway (though I’m rather proud of my Ode to Toast blogpost, possibly the pinnacle of my career) once you leave the bosom of your home country it’s inevitable that you’re going to change in a million ways. You learn about your own character, you form opinions, experiences change your character and even the way you see your own country changes. What’s more I’ve lived most of my adult life in the UK – how can I be the same naïve Kiwi girl who jumped in an airplane, ready for life to happen?
That, in a waffly nutshell, are the bittersweet joys of being an expat. But, it is worth every single second.
“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”
― Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye