We packed up our flat in Ruzafa and headed back to the good ol’ USA for a few months to visit my family and friends and wrap up some things before making the official move to Spain. The past three months has been a complete whirlwind of social events, road trips throughout California, quality time with family, and sad “see you laters”.
The feeling of comfort one receives from family and lifelong friends is indescribable. Safety and a sense of security are often feelings one loses track of during a time of trauma or turmoil. These past three months will forever be filled with the memory of being constantly reminded that I am supported, I am not alone, I am safe, I am secure, I am loved. Each interaction, experience, hug, and tear served as a repeated, unexpected sign of the amazing people I have in my life. I am eternally grateful.
It is a weird feeling to lose one’s sense of “home”. I found myself the past nine months really feeling a lack of belonging. For the past 14 years, I have called San Diego home. Establishing roots, fueling lifelong friendships, driving on auto-pilot to various destinations throughout the city, and always tucking myself into my own bed at the end of the night. I imagined my first Europe trip, about 11 years ago, as being the strongest sensation of culture shock. The first time walking through ancient Greek ruins, the first time having a cafe outside in a square in Spain, my first pizza in Italy, visiting the Louve in Paris, backpacking throughout 18 different countries while sleeping next to a new stranger in a hostel every other night, the first time hearing a new language and struggling to communicate… However, what I have noticed is the increase of the intensity of both culture shock, and reverse culture shock, every time I reenter Spain or the US.
Each new experience seems to highlight the shocking differences and beautiful clash of culture between my two homes. Interactions with friends and family are consistent reminders of the ways in which life is simply different between both countries. It would be impossible to identify which is “better” or more appealing. It has been emotionally challenging to consider the implications of moving away from a place I have called home for almost half my life. However, what was most startling during this last trip was realizing that California was not necessarily my home anymore. My heart was somewhere else. For now, my vision of starting this new chapter of my life took place in a setting far away from California. In Valencia. I realized it the moment I whispered quietly to Timi one night, crying through stress-laden and pregnancy-hormone-induced tears, “I’m ready to go home”.