This time when I got back home to Malta after a summer in UK and France, I found it tricky to settle. More than at any other time before. The feeling of being happy to be coming back to home abroad, had been lasting for shorter periods each time I returned to my life here.
The taxi driver was 1 hour late leaving with us from the airport, so we left at 1am instead of midnight and I was just immediately tired of Malta. I’m not going to Malta bash, why would I? There’s so many awesome things about this country. The other day I got back from the beach with friends and kids (awesome in itself) and hungry and tired grabbed the kids and bags, ate dinner and about 2 hours later was looking for their water bottles. I realised I was missing my handbag with the bottles in, and my purse, money, all the important stuff.
I knew instantly I had left it somewhere ‘bad’. I went down to the car and the passenger side door was wide open, my bag on the passenger seat! It had been that way for some hours. Quite a lot of people pass there on Saturday night, and I thought of all the times we had been lucky in similar situations here.
I also love running here. The weather is almost always perfect. The smells and feel of the countryside at night is something I’ve never experienced in the UK.
So my feelings of homesickness, I don’t know where they are coming from, and I’m almost reluctant to recognise them as that. My kids love it here, I love it here, I’ve had a great 7 years here overall. I’ve struggled with the health care and child care/ schooling systems since pregnancy, and as everyone (Maltese or otherwise) seems to agree, dealing with any kind of government department is rarely straight forward. However, the obvious contrast here is to the UK weather extremes, I like to know where I am with the weather and Malta’s been pretty good to me on that note.
My most overriding memories of the UK are bonfire night. It’s only the beginning of November and I just recall how freezing cold I always felt. And I remember January 2007 when I flew to Indonesia. My visa picture was so pasty, and boarding the flight from Manchester, I remember how bitterly cold, wet and windy it was.
I’m a bit influenced by weather, and just feel better and more alive in warmer climates. I think I take the sun a bit for granted living here. I’ve been living away for nearly a decade consecutively. Before that I travelled a lot and could never really settle back in the UK for good.
Maybe that IS the traveller’s paradox. After travelling and seeing the world, you will never feel completely at home in the native country you left, yet you will always feel like a foreigner where-ever living abroad. It doesn’t matter how long I live here. I will always be ‘a foreigner’. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the UK for just a day, when I can’t figure out the self service checkout, people behind me don’t understand it’s because I’m really a ‘foreigner’.
How can I be homesick? I just got back?! However, I recognise this feeling from my early days of travelling. It goes away eventually, as you start to feel the new place is your home. I thought these feelings had gone forever, but these signs are very familiar.
I miss my mum and she’s not getting younger. I miss my best friend. We rarely see each other now. I miss my brother and sisters and their kids.
I’m trying to put my selfish needs and wants aside this time, because I have children. I am trying to look at the world from their eyes. What I now desire for them (to have a garden, schooling like I had, long bike rides and country walks, snow, a cat, to be near cousins, as I never had cousins)… I have to measure against the facts that they were born here, they have friends here and they like the fact that car journeys are never long, so they say
How much is the UK now like the UK I remember? When I go back I feel like a fish out of water. My new ‘contactless’ bank card and available mobile phone services blew my mind last time. Plus every time I am departing from Luton airport, I honestly feel that most of the people flying in are Eastern Europeans. Not that that’s a problem to me (I’ve yet to meet an impolite Polish person) but it just wasn’t like that when I was little. My Coventry Primary school was culturally diverse and I loved it, but there was no dominant minority, so the UK I’m remembering doesn’t really exist. The weather is not even the same, snowy Christmas’s just don’t seem to happen anymore.
Is it possible it has taken 10 years for all the little things I miss from time to time to add up? Going to the theatre, or for a cottage weekend getaway, or just to catch up with old friends? I was never into pubs, but I have been dreaming about pub banter and stuff I didn’t even realise I missed.
I can’t shake the feeling that I need to go back, even though I just returned from there.
I find myself thinking I ‘should’ be grateful for this, and that, and just as I was trying to convince myself of this a moment ago, my Scotts supermarket delivery arrived, I opened the beans from the deli and they were completely mouldy. They offered to refund them when I called, but I couldn’t help feeling this was maybe a sign…
When you get to the point of trying to rationalise why something is good for you, is that an indication of the fact that it no longer is?