Reflections of a Jet-lagged Woman Between Continents

Over the past month I have been to the following places:

Fall-leaves-2Fall leaves in Washington. I arrived just in time.

Johannesburg is the one place where I haven’t been very much during the past month. As I’ve said many times before, I love traveling but I also hate being away from Joburg, especially for extended periods.

I’m really grateful to be back in the United States at such a beautiful time of year and to reconnect with my American friends and family, some of whom I haven’t seen for years. Every time I come back to Washington I’m surprised by how lovely it is, how quaint the houses and shops and restaurants are, and how liberating it is to step out onto the street and just walk. Jeez, I miss walking when I’m in Joburg.

People in South Africa often ask me if I “miss home”. My usual answer is no. I miss specific people and I miss certain things. But as I go about my day-to-day life in Africa, I don’t actively miss my old life in the U.S. I don’t feel homesick.

Strangely, the time when I feel most homesick is when I’m actually home. Home as in America — the home where I was born and raised and will always be “from”, no matter how many years I live in South Africa. As soon as I set foot back onto American soil, I feel homesick for America. I’m a stranger here — everything is different since the last time I came. I feel disoriented. I cry in taxi cabs because the driver doesn’t know where to go and I can’t remember how to direct him. I don’t know what to do first, who to call first, although I actually can’t call anyone because my South African phone doesn’t work. I can’t believe how beautiful it is here, how easy it is in so many ways, and I momentarily forget why or how I ever left. But I know I don’t belong here anymore.

I feel homesick for home when I’m here in America. I feel homesick for the home that I never appreciated when I actually lived here, the home that isn’t home anymore.

Fall-leaves-1More leaves.

But you know that homesickness that everyone asks me about back in Joburg? The homesickness for America, which I never really feel when I’m away? Well I do feel it — big time — the other way around.

I miss my new home — my home in South Africa — a lot right now. I miss the exploding purple jacaranda trees, which I barely had time to appreciate for the two days that I was home last week. The jacarandas are putting out a bumper crop of blossoms this season and I hardly had the chance to look at them, let alone take a single photo. They’ll be nearly gone by the time I return.

I’m devastated that I wasn’t able to be “home” in South Africa during this particular week, when thousands of university students around the country marched in protest to support the #FeesMustFall campaign. I’ve been following the photos on Instagram and it seems there is a revolution brewing. I don’t know enough about the issue to say anything substantive, but I wish I had been there to help document what was happening. I wish I had been there to be part of it.

I miss Ray. I miss the Melville Cat. I’m homesick for both my homes. And I’m tired.

That said, I’m overjoyed to be back in the land of American football, real Mexican food, and cheap contact lens solution from Target.

EnchiladasEnchiladas with mole sauce, real black beans, and rice. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

That’s all for now.

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13 Comments

  • Reply violetonlineisonline October 24, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    you make me have very itchy feet.

  • Reply Stephanie October 24, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Oh my exact same sentiments! I love being in the USA when I’m there — the ease of walking and alternative transport, Target, family, friends and Mexican food. Yep, this time of year is gorgeous — Fall just isn’t a thing in SA. But, a week ago, my heart ached for my family I’d left behind in SA and cheap but delicious cappuccinos that aren’t served in a to go cup. Home really is where the heart is and sometimes it’s okay to have a divided heart.

  • Reply Gail October 24, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    Have a great time reconnecting with everyone but hurry back we love having you here

  • Reply Natalie October 24, 2015 at 10:43 pm

    Being from here and there and everywhere, I understand every single word and sentiment!
    Enjoy your time in the US xx

  • Reply Eugenia Parrish October 26, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    I left the place I was “from” once again recently and came back to southern California (the place of my heart) for the last time, I thought. I swore I’d never again leave but well, I finally had to admit it wasn’t the same place. I couldn’t go to the beach without paying with a debit card for parking, or just to get in to the beach which is now governed by the government instead of the tides. The roads I loved are screaming freeways that go nowhere I recognize, and although there are massive frantically happy shopping mega-centers everywhere, people still seem beaten down and pessimistic from the real estate bubble that burst so many years ago and apparently destroyed all their dreams. So when people are surprised that I moved away recently, from the place I couldn’t wait to get back to, I just say, “My California isn’t there anymore, so what does it matter?” And I’m homesick for it, but I have a new life in a whole new place and maybe my heart will learn to accept it. Thanks for a wonderful touching description of my own heart.

    • Reply 2summers October 26, 2015 at 5:37 pm

      Thanks so much, Genie. It’s great to know you can relate although I’m sorry that the place you remember isn’t there anymore ?

  • Reply Timmee October 27, 2015 at 6:40 am

    Hurry back. We want to braai.

  • Reply autumnashbough October 27, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    I love the East Coast, and I love D.C., Virginia, and Maryland, but I’m like you and Genie. Northern Virginia/ Maryland has been so built up I don’t recognize it, and it hurts me. So while it’s nice to visit, I have no idea how to get anywhere anymore.

    Instead, I have my heart set on a rural town in New Hampshire. Most of them don’t change much, and if they do, I won’t have seen what it used to be like. Also, NH is going backwards. All the forests were clear cut centuries ago for farm fields, and only now are the trees tall again. The bobcats and lynx and wild turkeys and bears are returning, and it’s more beautiful than it has been in centuries.

    So, yeah, I’m going there. Some day.

    • Reply Eugenia Parrish October 27, 2015 at 11:50 pm

      My children and grandchildren live in Vermont. They keep asking me to move there, and for your same reasons, I’m seriously thinking about it, even though my lungs have a real problem with damp and cold.

      • Reply 2summers October 27, 2015 at 11:51 pm

        My sister lives in Vermont. Beautiful but too cold in winter for me!

  • Reply Lani October 31, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    “As soon as I set foot back onto American soil, I feel homesick for America.” couldn’t have said it better.

    • Reply 2summers November 4, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  • Reply Ceece's Travel November 3, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Hi

    What a lovely post! I am dying to see Washington DC in all its natural glory actually!
    I love Travel and this post makes me want to jump on a plane like yester-year 🙂

    There are things happening in RSA but there are always things and events happening everywhere, what we can do is just be happy in the moments we’re living in, not the ones we’re missing 🙂

    Cant wait to read more of your works!

    And As Always…
    #LoveAndTravelHugs©
    Cee

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