The first milestone

Sometimes it’s difficult to believe it’s been this long. Sometimes it feels like such an insignificant amount of time. It feels like it’s been forever. And yet it feels so raw, so new, like an open wound.

I’ve been home six months.

Yes, it was exactly six months ago that I set foot back in this country, after four and a half years of being away, living a different life in a different world. Has it really been six months already? Has it really been only six months?

A few nights ago someone asked, “Are you happy to be home?” I stared at him for a while; to have said either yes or no would have been a complete lie, so I gave the most diplomatic, neutral answer I could think of:  “It’s OK.”

And it is. It really is OK. Or it’s not as bad as it could have been. I have a miniscule — but extremely substantial — circle of friends, without whom I wouldn’t be as all right as I am now. I have a job I actually like, without which I would have thrown myself out the window four months ago. Thanks to these two, I don’t question my decision to come back here as often as I did anymore.

And yet sometimes — especially when I’m on Facebook (it will be the death of us all) — I think of everything and everyone I’ve left behind in that other part of the world, that other part I used to call Home, and I have to stop and catch my breath, because the pain, as brief as it is, is excruciating. Rehearsals with the Pitches and choir, evenings spent at Panera Bread with Shirley, nights out at Level, Papaya and the Chocolate Bar, the warm, almost domestic environment at the Boston Academy of English, and the faces… all the faces…

I never thought my life would turn out like this. I never thought I would one day have to give up the life I had loved so much, to come back to the life I had been so desperate to escape before. But who’s to say the life I had loved would remain so if I had fought to stay on? And who’s to say that I had to surrender myself to the life I left behind so long ago? For things are different now. I’m different now. The occasional stabs will still hurt, but with everything I have now, and in spite of everything and everyone I’ve loved and lost right up to this moment, I know that I wouldn’t have this any other way.

Here’s to the next six months.

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