Monday, October 20, 2014

questions i've been asked recently, part iii: what i say and what i mean

How was your trip?
what i say: "it was great!"
what i mean: "it was not a trip. it was home. it was my life for an entire year. it was not a trip. why are you saying it's a trip."
"oh wait, i'm probably overreacting to this."
"i'm sorry."
"well, anyway, it was fantastic."

Do you miss Switzerland?
what i say: "yes. so much."
(and then i laugh and change the subject.)
what i mean: "there are no words to describe it. there aren't. and i miss it and i don't want to miss it because it hurts so much and so i'm dealing with this by not talking about it so let's not talk about it."
"except i do. want to talk about it, i mean."
"i just, i'm not sure if you're okay with me melting into a puddle right here."

tell me something about your exchange year!
what i say: (laughing) "gosh, where to start... what do you want to know about?"
what i mean: "ahhhhh you are amazing."
"wait. do you actually want to hear all this?"
"are you sure?"
"are you really really sure?"
 "...and do you have seven hours to spend listening to me ramble?"

why didn't you respond to my emails/letters/texts?
what i say: "um."
what i mean: "gahhhhhh I AM SO SORRY. seriously, i am the worst long-distance communicator in the history of ever. this does not mean that you don't matter-- on the contrary, it means that you matter very much (because i'm talking to you now) and that once again i've proven my ability to lose contact with multiple people in a very short time. i'm really, really sorry and i love you very much. let's have a conversation right now."

I speak German too!
what i say: "that's awesome! where did you learn it?"
what i mean: "you are now my new favorite person. can we go talk in a corner? or actually can you just speak german to me for the next three days because i miss the sound of this language so much and i'm super afraid of losing it forever and i'm resorting to children's cartoons on youtube JUST so i can hear german again..."

::sighs:: ah, Switzerland. the most beautiful place in the world, isn't it?
what i say: "yes."
"yes it is."
what i mean: "yes."
"yes it is."

my first 100 days-- again

"and... i had two contrasting feelings. 
one was complete happiness, as if i was back in a comfortable place 
with people i knew and who knew me. 
the other feeling was complete and overwhelming homesickness. 
it was as if the two feelings were taking turns, 
and i was waiting to see which one would win." 
-- bloomability, sharon creech

my three-month theory about exchange -- the idea that after three months, you are exchanging "for real" and you are more than just a tourist-- isn't exactly a secret. that is, it's not anything particularly special or brilliant or life-changing. it's just a theory, a theory that happens to hold true for a lot of things; after 100 days (a little longer than three months), you have to change. 

and so i shouldn't have been surprised when, yesterday, i hit my one hundred days.
but i still was.

people laugh, sometimes, when i say that i'm homesick. they think i'm being funny on purpose. but the thing is-- i AM homesick. i'm homesick for places i've explored and languages i've heard and people that i've loved, because to me switzerland is home. 
i'm sorry if that sounds ridiculously stupid.
(actually, i'm not sorry.)
(go on exchange yourself and then come back and tell me it sounds stupid to call your host country home. I DARE YOU.)

at the same time, i love oregon. i never realized how much i HAD missed my life here until i came back... because here, as well, are places i've explored and languages i've heard and people that i love. even though i hated the US when I first got back, coming home forced me to recognize that portland, oregon, is home as well.
and i've missed it.

more than eleven months ago, i was sitting on my bed exulting in the fact that i was finally more than a tourist. more than a visitor in a foreign land. more than some random weird crazy girl who didn't belong.

and now here i sit, and i'm posting this because i'm finally, finally, FINALLY more than a tourist. more than a visitor in my own land.

because finally i am someone who feels, 
in her own random weird crazy way, 
that she belongs.