I was trying to get the photos off my phone and my trusty old Toshiba has updated itself to be more like a tablet and so it does all sorts of crazy things. There is this new media software on it. Maybe it’s old, I don’t know. It wants to do all this importing stuff for me so I let it. But in trying to figure out what I am doing I inadvertently selected a button that suddenly brought up all my photos from home, going back years. Images of birthday parties, of friends, of the children as wee babies. Pictures of our home, our backyard, our beach…of our old life.
I guess it may be hard to understand if you have not lived this kind of expat life but despite being happy here in our new home, the pain of leaving our past life still haunts me. It hurts. I purposely turned off the memories on Facebook because as our first anniversary here was pending, the memories were hitting me daily making my stomach churn. I deliberately avoid photos of our old life and when the children ask to look at them, I sit them on my lap and I suck in my breathe and I hold in the tears until they just won’t hide anymore. Then I tell the children that is enough for the day and as they gently touch the rolling tears with their little delicate fingers I say they are memories leaking out of my eyes…they are happiness.
The thing is this, the photos of today are no less important or insignificant as our photos of yesterday. Our photos of today will one day be so much more precious because of the memories they invoke. I am sure that when I am looking back on the thousands of images I capture of our life here, that the tears will roll down my cheeks again and when the children tell me of the friends they miss and how they miss their school teachers, that it will hurt just as much.
I am sure I am being overly sensitive. In navigating my way through this homesickness, I appear to have taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up on the long road through. A bit like when we went up to Sagada this time last year and we ended up on the wrong road battling mud slides and washed out roads. You have two choices in that situation, to stop and stay, waiting it out, missing out, or keep moving forwards. I always choose the latter.
I reflect on life back then, yesterday, when we had our home by the beach and in some ways it was so much easier. Yet we were stagnant, I was in a rut and our life was a nice shade of beige. I actually like beige – as a colour. Life was in fact not better, it certainly was not nearly as exciting or exhausting or frustrating. You know what though, being able to feel this gamut of emotions every single day keeps my cells buzzing. It keeps my mind ticking away and it makes me hungrier for more adventure in my life. So really, those tears that fall, that pain I feel in my chest is the grief of watching life passing by isn’t it. Remembering the children eating fresh corn from the garden and corn juice running down their chins. That crunchy sound as they chewed through the raw, sweet kernels. Is it really that different to watching them eat dirty icecream over here, with dripping sweet coconut cream running down tight fists as they struggle to keep up with the melting moment?
Life was beautiful back then, simpler and I absolutely wish some days to be back there. But I also know that when I think that one day this gig will be over, I feel that exact same pain in my chest and tears prick my eyes.