Life in New Zealand, after nearly 7 years, is settled, happy. Despite the earthquakes and the housing market, the Fitches are thriving there; we have gainful employment, a community around us, and the kids know it as home. Our Kiwi kids.
But is it home? What makes a home?
I boarded the plane in NZ so looking forward to our vacation, to the new places we were going to experience, and the family and friends that we would be able to create new memories with. I expected that after this trip, I would arrive back in NZ and feel like I was coming back home.
And I’m sure that will still be true. But then why, upon driving out of the hustle and bustle of Heathrow, did I have the sudden feeling that I had returned home? I’m such a huge fan of the UK, and treasure the years that I was able to call it my home, the years I started my family. But we moved away in 2006, and home is now elsewhere.
Nevertheless, my brain felt suddenly welcome and at ease. We arrived to our family and slotted right in. The kids thrived with so much attention, and unconditional love from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, family friends. We also so enjoyed returning that love and happiness. This is home. I was excited to see the changes since we’d left (“Didn’t there used to be a high school there?” “There are so many wind turbines!”), and delighted with all the things that I remembered (“I love that shop!” “This is the place dad and I had one of our first photos together”).
Surrounded by family, friends, and the rolling hills of Scotland, I felt I was back home after a long absence.
Saying goodbye was hard. These past few days in Germany have been amazing, the true vacation experience. We’ve learned and enjoyed and seen with our own eyes things that were only ever in textbooks and newscasts before. But it is not home.
Tomorrow we have another long journey to North America. I had the best childhood in Washington, and an amazing few years expanding our family, and raising happy, healthy children here. But we moved away in 2010, and home is now elsewhere.
Or is it?