Not that this is a hugely momentous occasion or anything, but today marks three months since I left home. That gets a teeny-tiny asterisk because I went home for Christmas, but it's still three months since I left home. "For good." For the record, it's also been three months since my last haircut.
I say "for good" not because I'm done with Michigan, but because it's for the foreseeable future. Living abroad gives you a perspective on home that you can't get from within.
I live in paradise, yet I miss home. I know there are people dying to get away from the snow and the cold of winter in Michigan. I can't really blame them, I felt the same way each of my past 26 winters. Okay, maybe it's only been 10 or 11 that I really wanted out of the tundra. Up until that point I was happy to sled away the winter. But I understand the urgency with which we want Spring to arrive. Curse that awful groundhog.
There's warm sunshine falling on my desk through the shutters of my window, and when I stop hunching over the keyboard, I can see the Caribbean. But what's on my mind? I wonder what's for dinner tonight. I miss my family. I need to fold some laundry that's sitting in a basket in the middle of my kitchen. I think I threw away a plate when I tossed out the seafood salad someone gave me - I just can't motivate myself to eat more octopus than I have to. I hope they don't ask for the plate back. There are a million things I need to do for work, yet I'm sitting here blogging. There's a pile of thoughts nagging at my mind, not a one has me lying on a beach somewhere.
It doesn't feel like paradise, it feels normal.
When you visit a place like this, you ache when you leave because it's so sun-shiney and warm, but its beauty is really in its temporariness. Things that are fleeting often are beautiful: A sunset, a certain piece of music, youth, abrupt memories, vacation. They are things that are not to be missed, but can't be bottled up and saved. For me, it would be beautiful to go home and see my friends and family for a few days. I got to hear my niece on the phone the other day, and it gave me a big, silly smile.
I know that I have it really good here - I would say that I love it here. But that doesn't shake the thought that I miss my family, I miss Michigan, coming in from the cold. It bugs me that I'll miss a Michigan summer. I wonder if its just our generation that constantly wants to be somewhere else. We don't want to settle, we're hesitant to say "I love it here."
But inevitably, you do settle. You adapt. Wherever you land, you stay who you are. If you are laid back, you will be laid back at home and in paradise. If you are neurotic, you'll be neurotic at home and in paradise. If you are content, depressed, crotchety, at peace, curious, compassionate, hilarious, careless, adventurous, dangerous - that's what you'll be wherever you go. Where you are has little to do with who you are. You don't ever get away from that.
And so I'm here, loving it, but thinking often of home and family. Odds are, I'll stay longer than the year I first signed on for. I think that's the way it's supposed to go. The mission here makes a lot more sense if I can be constant, consistent, see it through to the end and make my contributions.