The following post was written over a year ago for another expat blog. My feelings in this regard have not changed although we’ve been back earlier this year to the “motherland”. It actually only got stronger. I don’t belong there anymore. There’s nothing that pulls me back. Of course I would love to have my friends around, catch up with them. Other than that, there is truly nothing in me that misses living in Switzerland.
I find it interesting. I would have never imagined that the “split up” would be so final. I could have never imagined that I would not miss living in Switzerland. But the cord is cut and it’s such a good feeling.
The interesting thing is that even with your friends, things are no longer the same. You are not spending time together anymore. You don’t go through the same things, you don’t read the same newspapers, you don’t watch the same shows and you don’t share the same issues of a country any longer. Everyone moves on. Just like after splitting up in a relationship.
You remain friends because it’s what you are. You hang on to what once connected you. Sometimes I wonder if it’s still there or if you just hang on to how it once was… If it’s only memories shared that still connect you and your friends. Although you keep in touch you will not be able to make new memories anymore. Not in the way you used to, not with the people you used to make them.
Here is what I wrote in February 2015:
We will celebrate living in Australia for 10 years soon. It’s been a while since we left Switzerland and our families and friends behind and headed all the way Down Under. In those 10 years we’ve only been back twice.
Going back is just not that easy. I am not speaking about the hours and hours in the plane. I don’t mind that really. It’s everything else. I don’t miss Switzerland or my life prior to our move at all. I know that might sound weird to you, but it’s the truth. I admit there are things I miss or memories I cherish but I don’t feel like I need to go back. Although I still love my friends over there and of course my parents and miss seeing them too, I kind of moved on.
It is something that is really difficult to explain and some people might shake their heads in disbelief.
How can I be so cold?
I don’t think I am.
For me the most important people in my life are right here with me. My life happens here, our life does. Yes, I moved on. And the last time I’ve been back I had the impression that everyone else moved on. Things are not the same anymore as they were before the move and they will never be the same anymore.
It is great to still be friends with the people who are so important to me. It is beautiful to be in touch with them and to listen to what they have to tell. Listen to what is going on and tell them all about my life too. But we are all different now than back then. We are older and we kept taking shape, changing shape, being shaped by our lives.
I see others who try to fly back to their ‘motherland’ on a regular base and I always wonder what good this actually does. In a way you try to hang onto something that will no longer be there, something that you can’t get back, as much as you try to.
This might sound a bit harsh now, but I really don’t feel like doing this trip on a more regular base. The trip is long and hard and the time difference is huge. But that’s not it. It’s more about what happens while we’re there. Everyone wants a piece of you and what’s meant to be a nice trip and a vacation is turning into hard work. Because you try to squeeze in as many people as possible and eventually you end up being totally exhausted.
For the kids it is kind of fun. It is still kind of fun but also for them it is exhausting. Suddenly there are people they’re not really familiar with, who want to see them, talk to them, hug them, take pictures and so on. They get dragged around in order to see everyone and … ufff… only by writing this, I feel out of breath.
Now this might sound very selfish. But I prefer heading somewhere else with my family, spend the time together and have a real adventure, a real vacation. As much as I love all those people back home (every single one of them) I prefer my life here, our routine, our way and our pace.
Maybe it’s like two people who are far away from each other. Maybe it’s like drifting apart. We are drifting apart, me and Switzerland, me and my life before our move. I feel like we are drifting apart. Further and further. And it doesn’t feel bad. I don’t mind it.
Life leads you in one direction. I like the direction my life has taken me so far and therefor I will not fight it. It is a very difficult feeling to explain, something that many of you might not understand at all. And I understand that.
As I said, I cherish the memories, the great life I’ve had over there. The beautiful friends who share so many memories with me. But I also love my life here, my family, my friends here.
I guess it’s something you experience only if you leave your country, if you move away and build a new life, with a new routine, in a new country and with new people around you. It’s something that happens to you, when you know that you will not return anymore or at least not soon. But most of all, it’s something that happens to you when you move to a place you know you belong.