An Expat’s Welcome Home

14 Jul

In the excitement of coming home and seeing old friends, eating familiar food and sleeping in the same bed as before, I’ve been spared the terrors of reverse culture shock, though I’m sure that will only hold off for another few days. It’s a novelty to be home, yet experience tells me that soon enough the honeymoon period will be over. A few days ago I was living in the beating heart of the huge city of Buenos Aires, and now I find myself in the suburbs–practically the countryside–where no one is around during the day and even later on you only occasionally cross a car or other person on the road.

I’m back to sitting on my back porch where I can look at the green trees waving in the wind and hear nothing but a wind chime and birds chirping. I’ve gotten in two long runs without having to worry about walking in dog shit or a crazy driver plowing into me, and best of all, I have evaded the natural order by going from winter to summer. My friends and family are eager to see me and I likewise feel in need of their presence, so all things considered, there’s nothing to complain about except for feeling a void where the joy I had in Buenos Aires used to be. And that will always be there.

One of the first Hemingway stories that I really grew to love was “A Soldier’s Welcome Home,” about a returned dough boy from World War I named Krebs. Krebs would lay in bed late in the morning reading the paper, eat breakfast and take a walk around, but with no direction or real purpose. He was lost in his own emotions and difficulties in dealing with what he saw and did during the war. No one else understood, and if he met someone who did, it was almost too awkward to talk about it amongst themselves. He eventually came to the decision that he could no longer stay at home and would have to move on.

I had a strange relation to this character after coming back from Ecuador, but my fears were assuaged in knowing that I was soon going back to South America and wouldn’t have to deal with it for too long. I assumed that I would feel the same way coming back now, after two more years in Latin America, but for now I feel okay. In any case, I’ve been so busy for these last two days and will continue to be busy for at least a couple more weeks that I won’t have much time to sit around and think about it all. There are plans to be made, trips to be taken, friends to see, and miles to go before I can take a siesta.

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2 Responses to “An Expat’s Welcome Home”

  1. Adam July 15, 2011 at 12:19 am #

    What an honest reflection. I hope these few weeks home treat you well. And you are preparing for another adventure in a new city, it’s just in this country this time. See you soon amigo!

    • Jon July 15, 2011 at 1:11 am #

      Thanks Adam. I’ve always felt that connection with the character Krebs, who clearly represents Hemingway and his own struggles after the war, eventually leading to the expat life. You can draw some similarities to both lives, in that both war and travel/life abroad show you things other people back home won’t understand or be able to relate to. And that creates a barrier which is unspoken yet clear and present.

      I’m looking forward to seeing you, geuon!

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