“You haven’t changed since we were 16,” my oldest friend said. She was teasing, but there’s truth in what she says, as there always is when someone teases us.
We laugh, she and I, but somewhere inside I am not laughing.
Because the truth is that I slept walked through years of my adult life. I emigrated right after getting married at age 24. I was a child far from home, far from my friends and family, often lonely, often lost in a culture I couldn’t understand, and instead of recognising just how adrift I was, and instead of going home, I made a life … of sorts.
I breathed, I ate, I did things, I lived like a tourist in a foreign land – as if I was on an extended vacation.
Then at age 50, I moved back home and it was as if the movie had been on pause for 26 years, and then it started again, and I had a LOT of catching up to do.
It has been an exhilarating, exciting, emotional, and turbulent experience, where both happiness and sadness seem to be cranked up to three times their normal volume. It turns out that home is a lot more than a place and I am paying a price for not realizing that when I was young.
Or maybe I am not paying a price, but reaping the benefits. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.