The sadness and ache hit me like a wave as soon as I walked in the house. Setting my purse on the counter I immediately lost any sort of composure I had carefully crafted since we left my parents at the airport a few hours earlier.
Barely able to walk, I sunk to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably. There’s a dark side to having visitors from home to your new expat home that they don’t tell you about. It’s the severe, debilitating ache once they are gone.
Before any visitors had arrived, it was easy to push away the homesickness. There was so much to explore in our new home and no one I knew in America had ever been here. I had no fond memories of shared meals over my well loved dining table, or morning chats over a cup of tea (because… England). I woke every morning in my new home with memories of just these past few months. Without our furniture yet, nothing held memories at all for me. It was the easiest transition I could have imagined. But this week… that all changed.
“We are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and the urge for the foreign and strange.” -Carson McCullers
Ten days ago we arrived at Heathrow to collect my parents from their very first trip to Europe together. I was so excited to share England with them. To share my new life with the two of the people who mean most to me. To show them how well Tim and I are blossoming over here. I was naively blind to the wave of emotional pain I’d be experiencing just a few days later.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m no stranger to the week-long vacation visit. My best friend moved away when we were 12 and from then until college we spent every other summer trading off on who traveled across the country to visit. I had a long distance boyfriend in high school and Tim and I even lived apart for a year as he finished his degree and I moved to a new office for work. And of course, I’ve always been susceptible to post vacation blues. But I can’t remember them ever been as debilitating as these. I feel physically ill and sad.
The day after my parents arrived, 13.5 weeks after we shipped them, our household goods arrived. (Welcome to England, mom and dad! Help us unpack. haha). My lovely parents took it all in stride though and in addition to visiting several different locations including London twice and a drive up the island to Edinburgh, they helped us get mostly unpacked and fairly settled in. But as much of a blessing this was (yay no air mattress for my parents for more than one night), this caused the homesick and sadness to be magnified.
I’ve received so much words of support from friends new and old and they’ve all reminded me the same thing. That it’s completely normal to be homesick, that I shouldn’t pressure myself to feel one way or another so quickly, that I’m not alone. So this week I’ll be taking in all this advice and resting my soul. Retreating inward, binging on too many 90s reruns of British game shows, sending some cards back home and getting back to the gym. It’ll take time to get back to “normal,” but in the end, I’ll be okay. Stronger, knowing that my parents support me no matter what. Knowing that even halfway around the world, they will always have my back.