The truth is, I have trouble coming home. On one level it’s just logistical withdrawal. I go from leading my 27 newest friends on a busy tour of some of the greatest things in the western world…to me and my one bedroom apartment. I was out of rice. I bought rice. Now I have rice. Hardly the Roman Pantheon.
But also, it’s painful to be a conscientious American right now. Our unhinged president is committing disastrous mistake after immoral misdeed, over and over, and it feels like there’s nothing I/we can do to stop his runaway stampede of stupid. And underlying the circus is the awareness that we have serious issues we’re not addressing because we’re all watching the oval office dumpster fire.
It doesn’t help that my reintroduction to this country begins in its airports. Where I have to stifle the scream that if we want to address terrorism, we should stop x-raying our shoes and start talking about the consequences of putting US troops in Saudi Arabia and betraying our allies in Syria. Then I come through to where they’re selling high fructose corn syrup as if it were food, and I miss real food with every hungry cell in my body.
So yes, I have trouble coming home, especially when I stay home. But when I leave, when I go outside and interact with Americans, the weight lifts. I go to the dentist and the hygienist’s explosive laughter and earnest enthusiasm for flossing feel like the real health care. The other guy buying peanut butter is a buddy by the time we’re done discussing the merits of crunchy versus creamy. And when my bank tellers remember me, ask where I’ve been lately, and remind me about the home banking app, I can tell they don’t mind when I say no thanks, I’d still rather come in and talk to them.
The smiles at the farmer’s market. The bopping heads of folks rocking out in their cars at the stoplight next to me. The enthusiasm of the shopkeeper in a neighborhood store with a little sign by the register asking people to please avoid gendered pronouns when referring to staff. And they’re all just the decoration.
The core of my homecoming of course centers around the heart. Friends I’ve had for years (or hours). Family I can’t wait to see. And a very special lady, holding my hand as we walk to the school to meet the most incredible 9 year old in my world.
So yes, I have trouble coming back. But I also have joy. This is the country I come from. The country that gave me another couple hundred wonderful tour members this year. The country of my loved ones, and so many good people. It’s good to be home.