It’s Friday afternoon and I’m sitting in my grandparent’s dining room. Christmas is done and over with now, and my month-long trip to Michigan is drawing to a close.
Tomorrow evening I’m going home. Well, I’m going to one of my homes. When I came back to Michigan this last Spring, I felt like I was going home on both ends of the trip. The same is true of this trip, though in a slightly different way.
The home I am going back to is Colchester, England. I have lived there for one year and three months. From the time I land on Sunday, I have five weeks. Five weeks to either get a job (and a new visa) or pack up and move back to Michigan. More on that later.
When I was getting ready for my trip to Michigan, it felt like just that: a trip. Temporary. Exciting but inevitably exhausting. Each time I come home to Michigan it feels less like home in the way I used to define the word. It used to mean familiarity. Safety. Family and friends. And in some ways it still does. But it feels less and less familiar. I don’t function here like I used to–no longer an active member of this community, I am only a temporary fixture during this holiday season.
Colchester, though, has taken on the more functional meaning of the word ‘home.’ It’s where I am most able to be myself. It’s where all my things are. It’s where I sleep and eat and work and spend time with friends. I feel more at home in Colchester than I have ever felt at home in Michigan. That being said, I still question my place there often. Like I mentioned earlier, Colchester will only be my home after January if I am able to get a new job and a new visa.
The weird thing is that as I look at my life and the ticking clock that is my soon-to-expire visa, part of me wonders how I’m not panicking. In this moment, it seems more likely that I will be moving back to Michigan. And yet here I am, getting ready to go back for one last-minute attempt to make life in England work, and I’m not worried. In fact, I’m excited. I get to go home tomorrow, even if only for a little bit.
When people in Michigan hear me talk of Colchester in that way–full of excitement and love and joy–they like to tell me that I’m obviously meant to be there. Some even go so far as to tell me they are sure I will get a job and be able to stay. As if my happiness dictates my ability to stay there. Oh how I wish that was true, though I’m okay with knowing that reality it not often so kind.
Maybe I should be more concerned that my time in Colchester might be limited, or that I’m still effectively unemployed and on the verge of moving back in with my family. I’m not counting on anything right now, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up either. Right now I’m taking this one day at a time. I’m going to enjoy my time in Colchester. I’m going to hope the job interview I have next week goes well. And I’m going to hope that Colchester really is where I belong. And if not, I’m excited to see what happens next either way.
If I’ve learned anything in 2016, it’s that home is so much more than a place. I might not know where home is after February 5th, but I am certain that I will find it eventually–in Colchester, Michigan, or somewhere else. Either way, I’m pretty sure 2017 will be an interesting year in the least.