Aaaand we're back!
How do I feel after my trip to America? Somehow both monochrome grey and glowing brightly from the inside. It took me a solid week to reorient to the gray weather, jet lag, and my social life on another continent.
Do I recommend visiting five states in 2.5 weeks, with many travel days in between? You know what, I do - it really kept me in the present moment. But those travel days came with a bit of peace and reflection:
Every time The Scientist and I come back to the United States, I have this moment beforehand where I wonder what cultural elements will shake me the most. Will it be the face-melting fact that so many signs are in English? Will it be accidentally eavesdropping in on everyone's conversations? Will it be anxiety around gun violence? The fluorescent lighting in Walmart?
The America I used to live in keeps changing, for both better and worse, and the energy of it is vibrant, especially in Texas - I wouldn't expect it to stay the same as when I left. I wrote at the beginning of 2022 that going back to America felt a bit like squeezing back into old spaces with a new frame.
But I always seem to be welcomed back into the arms of people who love and care about me, regardless of my new European frame.
I've got a few feelings about it, though.
Getting together with extended and immediate family almost halfway into my trip, my family members were all excited to see me and hear more about my adventures. I came prepared for the debriefing. And although I understood their good intentions, I couldn't help but feel like they kept asking exactly how long I'd be there for, when I planned on returning home - as if this was just an adventure and not my Life currently being lived.
Of course, I understand they were just curious and miss having me so close by, but it did feel like I was carrying their care and kindness in one hand and a dismissiveness in the other. I wonder if other expats have felt similarly - I bet the answer is yes. Overall, I understand my family respects my decisions and even feels inspired by my capacity to get up and go. When living in the States, I'd only see them once a year, anyway - if that. But there's something about that ocean that feels psychologically further, though - because it is. Given we just bought a place here, I don't see myself moving any time soon. It's gray, but these forests are my home these days. Sorry, fam! You'll just have to come visit. ;)
Speaking of the Atlantic Ocean, I'm also really proud of how well I handled my solo travel on the way back to Europe, especially as a sometimes anxious flyer. Armed with new plant helpers (passionflower tincture!), fidgets, a recent dip in the springs, and stones, I flew for practically eleven hours interrupted - and then a few more after that. And I may be colder now, but I loved flying above the clouds, wild blues and sunshine, before descending into clouds and a cold, snowy Lithuania. There was something so grounding about it, knowing I'd have The Scientist and our greyhound on the other side of these clouds.
What's warmer than that?
Something else that I really appreciated? In multiple states, people noticed how much I loved something - tea, shoes, cards, fidget tools, tinctures - and gifted them to me to bring back home to Lithuania. I can't emphasize how loved I felt in those moments, and how loved I feel every time I look at, hold, or wear these things.
I feel so cared for and appreciated by my people back home - they know me so well.
But life has drawn me back to this small Eastern European country, and I'm curious to see what comes next for me. Life often has a way of throwing in a few surprises. If you're also living in another country other than your home country, have you made a trip back home yet or are you planning one? What are you looking forward to the most? The least?