when i was young and bored in school, i’d take an index card and work it back and forth between my fingers until it was worn down to the texture of a course kleenex.
after 13+ months abroad, i’m that kleenex.
i started out fresh, crisp, colorful, and excited. just like that stack of multi-colored index cards you plan on transforming into a pile of brilliant flashcards, yet somehow wind up as scattered to-do lists and scratch pads.
because i miss my homeland and culture in a weirdly clingy, almost-nationalistic kind of way.
i miss the comradery of my brothers.
i miss the wheel and the open road, alone with the silence or the dramatic sing-alongs.
i want to be hugged till my ribs crack and my breath is gone by friends who’ve been there since forever.
i want to sit on the floor with my nephew and together demolish a carton of ben & jerry’s.
i want to sit in coffee shops and wander through stores eavesdropping on english conversations just because i can. to sit and people watch, knowing i’m finally invisible; no longer the only sore-thumbed grey-eyed blonde getting stared through a sea of non-blondes.
and i’m worn. worn away like the edge of a river, and it’s not because i haven’t loved and lived every minute of the expat/missionary-teacher’s life. it’s because i have. and had i come prepared to stay forever, perhaps the wearing away wouldn’t have happened so quickly. but i didn’t, and it has.
but to be worn is not a complaint. not negative. not bad. because to be unworn is to be unused—and probably frightfully bored. i want to live ‘worn’, to die ‘worn’.
but looking into the future, i’m scared. knowing i’ll never fit again into the old life, knowing every prism of that life will look a little different. the colors will have shifted; months of imperceptible change will have piled up. i’ll be different; my own colors will have shifted; my own months of imperceptible change have molded and reworked the girl that left.
and too, i want to stay. because i’ll go back, and realize life wears no matter where the wear takes place. (playin’ them homophones and homonyms like a boss, yo.)
i want to stay, because there is a life worth living and an adopted family worth having here. there’s 60 some-odd teens i love beyond reason, passionately and impetuously, teens to live for and grow for and advise for and love.
but soon it’ll be time, once again, to change lanes, maybe even highways. knowing i was led here, knowing i’m led away, knowing i’ve learned and gained and been given what can never be bought. knowing that it’s not the homesickness bringing me back, not the yearning for familiarity. it’s the thread here and the cord there that pull and call me home, back to the new, forward to the next step on a broken road.
i could write an age on what i’ve learned, how i’ve grown, what i’ve come to understand. i should; i’ll try. but this post isn’t about the growth. this is about the byproduct of growth: growing pains.
or simply the raw honesty that comes with the re-evaluation of transition, or the tired candor of a sore heart, or the straightforwardness of haywire sentiment.