There is a process. To moving away from home. A psychological process I think. And when you move to a place that is very different than home there are times you may feel that all your feet are in different ponds and you have nowhere to sit down. Tricky, I know.
And that’s how I am tempted feel sometimes. Like there are different versions of me that I use for different situations but at the end of the day nobody knows who I really am because they don’t have the opportunity to see it.
There are 2 conversations I’ve had on this topic recently that really resonated with me. (I’ve noticed that I’ve begun to use this ‘resonated’ word a lot. I like it. Especially because I took a speech science class where we learned the science behind resonating sounds. And basically it’s a lot of speech jargon but using the word resonated really resonates with me. So I use it. A lot.)
My first conversation was with a friend who is just a little bit older than me. Just old enough to have been through everything I’m going through now in fact. And we were talking about what it’s like to move away from home and make your home somewhere else. And she told me that some day I’ll feel like I can be me in both places rather than trying to be “New York Camille” and “Indiana Camille.” And that. It resonated with me. ( 😉 ) Because, to be honest. I had been dreading going home for a whole month. I had been thinking about all the things I love about NY and how I didn’t really miss that much about Indiana and how taking a whole month off of ‘my real life’ was so inconvenient. And to top it all off, I felt like I had to somehow get in touch with this “Hoosier Camille” that I didn’t think was a part of me anymore.
Let’s take time now to make it very clear that these emotions were no way imposed on me by anyone else. I told my mom about my “Hoosier Camille” complex and she said, “Just be yourself.” Which is basically what aforementioned friend told me. But for some reason, hearing it from her, like that, well. It resonated. I mean. It hit home and I was able to accept it as truth.
My second conversation occurred once I was home. With a dear friend who, like me, has the pleasure of visiting home and living somewhere else. And she said something that got me thinking. She said, that in our effort to make sense of our different worlds we try to identify their differences and similarities. But in doing so we can never be true to each place as we are placing the masses of people and experiences into confined boxes, forgetting that not everyone or everything fits in the boxes that we make. And she also said that perhaps we need to become comfortable with making our own boxes for ourselves. So instead of feeling like we need to fit into culture A or culture B we can be ourselves- culture C. Which just happens to be a mix of our personal experiences in culture A and culture B. Which no one will or can really understand. But we kind of have to be okay with that because we have to be okay with who we are, even if no one understands it.
And so. I set out to be myself. Culture C. And instead of analyzing all the differences between my homes (as I have previously done) I decided to focus on the similarities. Because as different as they both are, they both make up a part of me. And I’m just one person. So. Logically, as I don’t have a multiple personality disorder that I am aware of, there must be some way to make a connection between the two.
This mental process was the preface to one of my most successful and smoothest transitions home. Deciding to be myself and not be threatened by the differences that collide in my kaleidoscope of life allowed me to actually take a break. The nice thing about having a month long break is that for an entire month I was almost never in a hurry. I didn’t have to drive fast. Or be annoyed waiting on a train. Or waiting on anything for that matter. I could be entirely flexible with my plans, rescheduling them on a whim if needed. Because when you have a month off, there is very little that can’t wait till later.
And there was a moment. Maybe for the better part of an hour. Where I said to myself, I think I could live here. Now this is something new. Because in my analyzing the differences I undoubtedly found things that I liked better about NY and felt were valid reasons for never returning to Indiana. But in analyzing the similarities, while simultaneously choosing to be me, I found that Indiana is not a place “without.” Rather, it is a place “with,” as most places are. And when you can see the “with”es you realize that they are things you can live with. And maybe even like.
So that was my trip home. And on Monday, as I rode to my last lunch with my sisters and mother, I thought to myself about how the worst part about leaving is always the last 5 minutes. It’s the hugs and the realization that 5 months is a long time to not see someone and you may, in fact, be tempted to miss them.
But then my life took an interesting transition. After the hugs. The boarding of the plane. The flight delay in Chicago. The pick up from the airport. My life went on. And the interesting thing about coming home from home is that your life is right where you left it. There are Christmas cards in your mail pile. There are hugs and “we missed you”s from the people you left behind. There is a room, full of your stuff, waiting for you to move back in. And there are routines. Things you don’t have to figure out. They just work. And I realized that I liked being home but I like being back.
And that’s when I realized that I’m me. I’m not Indiana Camille anymore. And I’m not New York Camille either. I’m just me. And my life is a venn diagram. And I do have my feet in too many ponds. But the nice thing about it is that when I take the time to sit, the view from every shore is beautiful. Different. But beautiful nonetheless.