Copyright 2016 © Kate Kelsen. All Rights Reserved
Looking around the train carriage at the other commuters, of those that are not dozing off, the rest are looking down at their phones. I used to be like this. Now, I just feel disconnected. I feel confused, because I don’t know who I truly am anymore. For a while now I have had this horrible feeling that I cannot completely understand. Sadness, nervousness, uncertainty. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy getting back into life at home in Australia, but I could never have imagined just how hard it would be.
Twelve months I spent traveling through the UK, Europe, Asia, New Zealand and Australia. Every day there was something new around the corner, yet there were no plans or responsibilities except for staying alive and getting from place to place. A year had seemed like a long time to be away, but it was over in the blink of an eye. By the end of it I was exhausted, yet excited for the next chapter.
My return home has felt like a plummet back to Earth; everything feels so different, yet exactly the same. My first sleep in a real bed was amazing, yet so strange. My clothes are now hung up in a closet rather than strategically compacted into a backpack. There are more than four shirts and two sets of pants. The space around me feels so large. Sometimes the contrast is too much, and I feel irritable toward everything reminds me that my trip is over. I don’t know why, but talking to people about my travels often makes me feel awful.
Rebuilding my life at home often seems too much to comprehend. Looking for a job, for somewhere to live, is all so mundane. I often sit for hours pouring through my photos. I miss the people, the places, the smells, and the sounds. I miss the person that traveling caused me to be. I feel like I have lost her. All good things must come to an end, but some foolish part of me refuses to accept it.
More than once I have laid in bed and just cried. During one of these meltdowns, my sister reminded me that the changes I was experiencing were significant, and to let the feelings just be. To accept the situation for what it was, reaffirming that it was okay to feel this way.
At the next station a handful of commuters stand and move towards the exit doors. Observing the repetitive monotony of ‘home’, of people unconsciously shuffling through the paces of their day, I know life will never be the same for me. I will never again be the person I was before my trip. There is a hole inside of me now that can never be healed. I will never ‘get over it’, I will just have to accept it and learn how to live with it. I just need to give it time.
2 thoughts on “Coming Home: Flash Fiction Story”
Wow Kate! You have captured what many experience. I too have returned to my ‘home country’ after many years away and still feel a stranger in my birth country even though I was both a child and adult here.
All I can suggest is…go with the flow…meet new people, join new clubs etc. As the old ones may not be able to relate to you any more…you are different, have learnt how to experience massive change, so take and allow time.
You can always travel again another time somewhere else. Perhaps too..think of Australia as just another ‘new place’ where the new you will find like minded people as you are now.
And a new job will bring new people and new learning for you. Embrace it Kate. You have so much to share to others, and how inspired they will be from your new ‘normalness’:)
Thanks for the feedback Sandy! While the places mentioned are the ones that I have traveled to, this is actually not my personal story. This concept was inspired by a couple I know that did a year long round the world trip. I have however had similar experiences on a smaller scale upon my return from my own adventures, including the emotional rollercoaster of getting home. It took me two weeks to get back into my writing routine after returning from a 9 day holiday in Thailand! It is also very hard when the people in your life aren’t as enthusiastic about travel as you. It can be a lonely experience.
This story is going off to a writing competition focused on the theme of ‘Grieve’. I was inspired to write this story after observing what I percieved to be a form of grief following a return home after long-term travel. I am so glad you enjoyed the story Sandy, your response was exactly the kind I wanted for the reader and confirns I am on track!