I've really been enjoying my time in New Jersey with my family and friends. So far, my family and I have steered clear of politics as a conversational topic, and that has cut WAY down on tension and arguments. (When you think about it, how stupid is it to waste valuable family time fighting about politics? It serves no useful purpose especially when we only get to spend a few weeks a year together.) My mom is aging and having some memory issues, but otherwise she's actually in pretty good shape for someone who will turn 79 in just a few weeks, and I'm grateful she is doing as well as she is, and that my sister is nearby to help her when she needs help. I've been getting together with friends as often as possible, and that totally rejuvenates my soul because my friends are just AWESOME women. And this weekend I'm going up to Amherst, Mass with all my family, to see my niece who is STARRING in a musical at her university. I haven't seen her perform live in anything in the past three years, and never thought I'd get the timing right to visit her school and to see her in any college-level productions, so this is a HUGE source of excitement for me, and being able to do it with all my family is even better. This weekend will be one of the biggest highlights of this trip home.
Still, I am becoming more and more aware that this is no longer truly "home" for me. As much as I love my family and miss my friends, I get bored here in only a few days. (There is only so much of a rush I can get from shopping at Target, Macy's, DSW and Kohls.) I planned a longer trip of 16 days this time because I know that I will probably be coming back less often from now on, thanks to the overinflated airfares. But the reality is, after about 9 or 10 days, I'm always ready to go home to Paris. Nine days seems to be about my limit (especially with my mom wanting to keep FoxNews playing all day on the TV -- ARGH!!!!!)
Part of my longing for my own home in Paris, on this trip, is that Georges isn't here with me and I miss him terribly, but on the up side he got to spend 5 days with his son in Montreal (before spending a few days at a conference in Puerto Rico) while I've been here, so we've both been busy and enjoying ourselves. He's flying home to Paris tonight though, and that will make the next week here even longer for me because I'll be thinking of how much I want to be THERE, where he is. Everything is always so much better when we're together.
But the other part of my growing sense of emotional detachment to my home roots is bigger than missing Georges. It has to do with accepting that, while there are people I love and miss in NJ, I am not at my best here. I simply do not "fit" into this world. The not fitting is part of what compelled me to go to Paris in the first place, and on this trip I have been reminded of that, rather strongly. This is where I grew up and where my family calls home, but it's not home for me. And trying to be in two places at once, emotionally, has actually been taking its toll on me in a lot of ways that I wasn't fully aware of, until I got here again. That has to stop.
What I need now is to give myself permission to put what makes ME happy and "well in my skin" at the forefront... instead of feeling like I need to make other people here happy first. That's my issue -- the needing to make certain people happy even at my own expense, and the ensuing guilt when it doesn't work (because that sort of thing NEVER works) -- and no one forces that on me, but ME. So it's up to me to resolve it within myself or let it go. I think I'm finally at the place where I am ready to do that and to let go of any lingering guilt about it. I can still love the people I love and be as supportive as I can, even when we're at a distance. I can still come back to visit, but less often, because that's what is healthiest for me (and what is financially best for me and Georges and for our future). And I can remember that I am not responsible for how other people choose to feel about my choice to move abroad and to make my life there. Even if circumstances permitted it, I don't think I would ever want to make my full-time home here now. I've moved on.
More and more, I'm "getting" this message. I think there will always be some kind of a wishbone effect, a feeling of being pulled in two directions, and that is perhaps a part of choosing to live far away from your roots. But I can also choose not to let it stress me out as much as it sometimes does.