Thursday, May 11, 2017

Swappin' Countries: Going Home

For anyone new around these parts, Erin is an American who lives in Australia, and Kristen is an Australian who lives in America.  The two of us regularly talk about our experiences and lives swapping countries. 

Well, not sure if "regularly" is the correct word because we both admit to being pretty inconsistent, but we have the best intentions to keep this series going.  (Is it a series if we've only had one post and one guest post?)

Both of us are traveling to our original homes in the next couple of months, so we thought we'd share our thoughts, feelings, and anticipations about that visit.

Erin's story:  It's been exactly two years since I've last been to Texas.  I am suffering from some serious homesickness, I ain't gonna lie about that.  Two years is a long time to go without a hug from my daddy, a laugh with my mama (in person), and the taste of chile con queso in my belly. 

Two years ago, my trip was planned around niece #1's high school graduation and a cousin's college graduation.  This year, my trip is planned around niece #2's high school graduation.  I will also get to spend Memorial Day in the good ol' U.S. of A.  As a bonus, my mom, my niece, my sister-in-law and I are having a quick San Francisco getaway together.  And, as a further bonus, three of my bestest girlfriends are meeting me in Northern Cali after the relatives go back to Texas, and I'll complete my trip with a couple of days in the Sonoma Valley with my girls. 

When I go home, there is no time for rest and relaxation.  I am constantly on the go, doing all the things and seeing all the people and eating all the food.  I love Texas food.  I may have an unhealthy relationship with it, but seriously, when I'm home, I gorge on alllll those things that I miss when I'm in Australia.

Neither of my parents live in Houston anymore.  I split my time between Huntsville (with my dad and stepmom) and Tyler (with my mom and her guy), and I squeeze in a little College Station time where my brother and his family lives.

Often, I get overwhelmed because I never get to see all the people I want to see or do all the things I want to do.  I have to prioritize, and in this situation, as cliché as it sounds, it's family first for me.

So, this might sound bad, but I also see the folks who are willing to be flexible and put effort in our relationship.  There are folks that I was really close to when I lived in Texas, yet I never hear from them anymore.  That's fine.  Our lives have gone in different directions.  So, I see the folks that are currently a part of my life, and not the ones that were once upon a time.

There is always some feelings of guilt.  I feel guilty by the pain in my father's voice, and the tears in my mother's eyes.  They support my happiness here, but we miss seeing once another more frequently, and I'd be lying if I didn't say I feel guilty about it.

And, when I visit Texas without my guy, I miss him.  Three weeks without your partner in life is a significant amount of time to be apart.  But, it's something we knew would be a part of our relationship with the reality of me living on the other side of the planet of so many of my loved ones.

The most difficult part of the trip?  Saying goodbye.  Especially when I don't have an exact plan of when I'll be there next.  So, so tough.  I get on that plane.  I sigh.  I reflect.  I may cry.  But, I head back to my second home where my husband, stepkids, fur babies, and life awaits. 

I feel fortunate to call two places home.  To have people that love and value me.  To love and value others.  Through the hardships, the feeling of gratitude for that love and appreciation outweighs all.

Kristen's story:  It has been almost 3 years since I last went home, and almost 5 and a half years since I left for good (though, I didn't know that at the time).

Like Erin, I am suffering from some pretty awful homesickness as well. I am very excited that I will be back in my home country, eating all the food I miss, hearing people talk like me, seeing words I recognise, driving on the side of the road I learned to drive on... all those things. But I am obviously most excited about seeing my family, especially my mum.

My mum and I have always been extremely close and living on the other side of the world has been so hard. Sometimes I wish it were different, but you can't help who you love. Mum loves America and has visited a few times since I moved here (only once to Louisville though) and her last trip was September 2016. I met up with her and a friend in LA & Vegas and we had a ball (and of course, fought a ton). The next plans were for KC and I to come home in June 2017, and then mum wanted to go to Graceland sometime in 2018.

my mum loves Toby Keith
We booked our flights for this June back in December. December 30th to be exact. As most of you know, my mum had a stroke early January. If we hadn't just booked our flights, this trip may not be happening. I probably would have hopped on a flight home immediately. I almost did, several times, but she was surrounded by family and I was able to talk to her immediately after the stroke and she told me not to come. Things got a bit worse before they got better, but she is doing really well. She is not home yet, and she is not back at work.

Before my mum's stroke, we had lots of plans - I wanted to take KC to see the Blue Mountains and the Hunter Valley. I wanted to do more touristy stuff because I didn't know when I would be back. I thought about doing another mini trip, like to Uluru or something. Busy busy busy, doing all the things and seeing all the people. Like Erin, I had friends that I was 'so close' with before I left, but they don't put any time and effort into the friendship when I am gone, so unfortunately when I am home, I don't make an effort to see them - time is far too precious for that. Moving across the world sure shows you who your people are.

Now, after my mum's stroke, we probably aren't going to go to the Blue Mountains or the Hunter Valley. We won't go to Uluru. We will probably spend most of our time at home. We had already booked New Zealand before my mum's stroke, and I don't want to waste any of the time I have with her. We will be in Australia for 2 weeks, and we are spending a few days in Melbourne like last time.

I am excited. I can't wait to see my mum, my nana, my cousins, uncles and aunties. I can't wait to see Pacey, my beautiful golden retriever. My cat Agatha couldn't give two shits about me and wouldn't come near me last time, which is definitely more than a little heartbreaking. My little brother is somewhere I'm not going to be able to visit him more than once and that also breaks my heart.

Saying goodbye is stupid hard. Flying home is crazy expensive, KC and I want to start a family soon and won't be able to travel as often. The thought of more long flights makes the butterflies in my stomach go crazy. My mum probably won't be able to travel for quite some time. The unknown, the I don't know when I will be back, when I will see my mum again, it's so freaking hard. I feel so guilty that I am not there. That my dog, Pacey, gets SO excited when she sees me (will she remember me this time?), but my cat Agatha could not care less. They are both getting older, and I am not there for them. Yes, I realise they are animals, but I'm not there for my mum, little brother or nana either.

Like Erin, I do feel fortunate that I can call two places home and that I have people who love me enough to miss me, and I them. Sometimes I have to work a little harder at my appreciation and not turn into a sulky child, but at the end of it all, there's no real solution. I am who I am because of where I've come from and where I am today. My heart - as corny as it sounds - is forever split between the two places. Instead of sulking about it, I will appreciate the visits home more than I ever appreciated actually living there.

As I'm sure you can tell, being an expat going home is all sorts of emotional. But I'm sure I speak for both of us when I say excitement about going home and doing all the things definitely outweighs all the not so great feelings. And of course, I am making Erin see me when I am in Sydney, and who wouldn't be excited about that?


  1. yay us ;) remind me again your exact dates for your trip. we need to organise/hash out when we will meet up in sydney too!

  2. I love this series ladies!! I'll reply to your part here on your post and Kristen's on hers :) I hope you have an amazing trip home. It sounds busy and I'm sure it will go by fast (unfortunately, it always seems to happen that way) but so glad you get that special trip with your niece/sis in law and mom. You are also so right about prioritizing visiting with the people who are actually in your life despite being so far away. I was always the same when I went home (across the country) in University and seeing family was always my #1 priority. You just can't get enough of that time with loved ones!!
    Safe travels and have an absolutely amazing time!!! I will be thinking of you!!

  3. i am so so excited for you to go home! i'm glad you'll have 3 weeks too! i cant wait to see and read all the things you do. being with family, there's just nothing that compares. as i said on kristen's blog - you both are super strong women and i think not a lot of people realize how difficult it is to be so far from home. love u!

    xoxo cheshire kat

  4. Hooray for a trip home to Texas and getting to eat all of the food that you miss so much! I seriously don't know what I'd do if I couldn't have Tex Mex on a regular basis! When you make it to College Station you definitely need to try Fuego or Torchy's for some really good tacos! Fuego was the place that Miles Garrett was obsessed with! Also hooray for getting to meet up with Kristen while she's visiting Sydney!

  5. I think food is the thing I miss most about England - even more than my family. Like I said on Kristen's post, I am probably a horrible person because I feel like I get on better with certain family members when we're not in the same country and I'm always glad I get to leave again before they can start annoying me. I hope when (if) I have my own family we will be closer/like each other more and they will actually miss me when we're apart! (Not that I don't miss my family but I don't find saying goodbye to them as hard as every other normal person seems to. It probably helps that at least one of my parents has lived 6 hours away from me since I was about 10!)

  6. I think it'd be really rough living so far from family... A different state is one thing but allll the way around the world is some serious distance. It sounds like you have a really fun, packed trip awaiting you in the states, though! Those three weeks are going to be a great time for you!

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  8. erin! you should NEVER, EVER apologize for putting your family before your friends. you shouldn't even have to MENTION making it a priority.

    i'm always so pleased to see you when you're here, but i don't want you to feel obligated or stressed about that. and you've driven south to see me twice. i hope you know i'd certainly be inclined to travel north... huntsville's not so bad. i did spend about four years there, you know. :] anyway. if i can see you that'd be awesome, but please know that i understand that your time is a precious thing, and if there are others who are clambering for your attention... (that said... they opened a pappasito's next door to deaux's).

    anyway, i hope you enjoy the time traveling. :]

  9. These are both such emotional stories. I live in the US and my parents live in Jamaica so I understand what you ladies are sharing too.

  10. I can't imagine living so far from my family and my home, but I am so glad that you have great groups of friends and family in both places. I understand what you mean about leaving your fella behind. I would really miss KC if I spent that long or even a third of that away from him! I am happy that you get to see your family soon though, they will be so glad to see you and it will be a blast to catch up. It's nice that you are able to combo it with a trip to CA and wine country with your ladies! :) I can imagine that saying goodbye is super difficult. Enjoy it while you are there! :) And enjoy meeting each other!! XO - Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

  11. I think you are both lucky to have two very different places to call home, but being away from family has got to be so hard, especially when there are health concerns. I've only ever moved three hours away from my family so I can't imagine what you go through. And while I dream about picking up and moving away, now that we have kids I don't think it's something I'd ever be able to do. Thank you for sharing!!

  12. I'm so excited for you getting to go home! You've been away for such a long time. I bet your family are so excited to see you! And you're so right about those people who try and those who don't. I've got some friends planning their trips out here already, which makes me so excited, and others I've barely heard from. I mean, I get it, but it does show you something doesn't it?

  13. Okay, firstly, I switched from Bloglovin to Feedly recently and I could have sworn I'd migrated all the blogs I follow, but it looks like yours didn't make the switch and I've been missing your posts for weeks! Also, recently I was doing housekeeping on Twitter and it suggested I follow you, which I definitely did before, and then somehow accidentally unfollowed you??? Anyway, sorry, and also hello!

    So excited for you to be in Texas. I can't imagine having two places so far apart from each other feel so equally like home. The bittersweetness of coming and going must be such a difficult way to bookend a trip. And the 3 weeks away from your guy, ugh, I know. David spent 3 months traveling to DC 4 days/week, and now we're looking at him leaving the country for a couple weeks (with us having like 9 days notice to mentally prepare for it!). Even when you're surrounded by home and loved ones, that separation from someone you spend every day with is hard.

    I hope that despite the difficult aspects of it, this trip is so much fun and gives you tons of happy memories with your people to cherish for years to come!


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