I’m now 5 days away from leaving my home of the past 4 months. I can’t even tell you how I feel, because I’m really not sure.
But I know one thing: I don’t want to leave.
Now please, don’t be sad or take offense that I’m not missing everyone at home. Believe me, there will be things I love about coming home. I’m excited to see my family and my dog. I’m exited to celebrate my brother’s marriage to an awesome lady. I’m excited to go to church again.
And yet, while I’m excited for all of these things, none of them (with the exception of church) feel like they’ve been missing while I’ve been here. I don’t actively pine for home, or things in the U.S. I’ve adapted far better than I thought I would, and Rome is the new normal for me. My heart is home in 2 places now.
In addition, I’m not ready to leave because I’m finally making progress. Just now, I overheard Paola talking on the phone, and I wasn’t completely confused. The Italian is coming easier, I’m quick to recognize the words and better at responding. And now I’m 5 days away from a place where I’ll never use it again.
It’s not just the language either. I have Italian friends now. I’ve started hanging out with locals, sometimes even speaking with them in Italian. I know the workers in the shops nearby, and in my favorite restaurants.
It’s a strange detail, but it says a lot. To be somewhere so long, and be so familiar, to have a place that I claim as mine.
Don’t get me wrong. When I think about going home, it’s not all bad. When I imagine getting off the plane, hugging my parents, walking into my house again and seeing my dog, laying in my yard, it’s all nice. But nothing is drawing me back there.
Ever since I was a child, I felt I didn’t want to stay in Bloomington. This trip has just confirmed that I can thrive in another culture. There’s no reason I can’t come back and stay indefinitely later in life, or go somewhere else entirely new.
But for now, I have to go home. And that makes me sad.