Drifting Apart

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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.

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26 thoughts on “Drifting Apart

  1. I can definitely relate with your story. I don’t feel like going back to my home country in a regular basis, it’s far and expensive. Besides, we are expected to visit everyone (close and far) and we end up spending most of our vacation days traveling and getting more tired. Love to see the family and hear how everyone is doing, but I also don’t feel connected to most of them as I did before… I like when they come over to visit , more manageable and we can actually spend more quality time together. 🙂

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  2. I was nodding all the time when I was reading this.This is how I felt during my last trip with my daughter to my home country.It was great for my family esp. my mother to see my daughter for the first time as well as my close friends,it was a great reunion as they say.But I was really exhausted,emotionally & physically.
    Seeing them was nice but I felt that I don’t belong there anymore,and no matter how much we tried to catch up,I feel like a stranger in our old home.
    Your words really describe what I’m feeling .
    I was even relieved knowing that I’m not alone in this kind of situation.Totally relatable.

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    • I know I said that we move on they move on. But sometimes I feel that because we moved away and had to adjust we actually changed more. They are still in their normal environment, they didn’t have to adjust to anything. They didn’t change as much as we did. And that fact definitely changes the entire dynamic. You’re right, it makes you feel like a stranger.

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  3. I understand where you are coming from. It’s hard. I enjoy going if I can but it is not as possible to do for exactly the reasons you say. People want a piece which I understand. But when you go you want to do other things besides going from house to house. I know it’s sounds selfish but it is a pain to do it.

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  4. There’s a saying here (which you probably have there too) that goes “You can never go back home.” Because once you leave home, it’s no longer your home. I hear stories of people who go back to their old state or neighborhood and exclaim about how much things have changed and who want to intrude on the people living in their childhood home because they want to relive the memories. It’s insane to me — the idea of knocking on a stranger’s door and saying, “Hey, I grew up in this house, can I come inside and look around?” but people do it all of the time. *sigh* Nostalgia makes for odd behavior I suppose. But yeah, I left my childhood state a long time ago and haven’t looked back. The laws are crazy, the people are weird, and the cost of living is insane. You’ve gotta be rich or crazy to live there, and I’m neither.

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    • I’m with you here, I think it’s totally weird to do that… I also think that once you move you also have to detach yourself from what you leave behind. Otherwise you will never be able to open up to the new things.

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    • Sounds like my home state of California, which is too crowded and expensive to live in now. However, I generally prefer those “crazies” to the rednecks who run my current home state of Tennessee!

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  5. Adding on to my comment on your prior post about home schooling, I think it was also serendipitous that you landed in a generally diverse and open-minded and really “new’ country like Australia. In addition, I think that the population is generally distributed on the coast, so the “flyover” redneck generally nationalist/narrow-minded population is not as large as here in the US, though I’m sure there are segregated enclaves such as the one in Chicago where these previously home-schooled Jewish kids now find themselves. I’m sure they’ll learn some lessons in their new life there, I just hope they are more positive than their initial “playground experience.” I also hope that their teachers, and possibly even some of their new classmates, will take to heart the sentiment expressed by Craig Harper in your earlier post, and that Arvin and Soleil will as well.

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  6. I also feel that, even if the people you left behind in a place are not the same as you remember, and even if there have been a lot of physical changes in the place you left, sometimes just be being physically there, you might still get the feeling of being home. Or maybe it’s just that my hometown is a beach town, and that those beaches and that ocean are still pretty much the same as when I left!

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  7. Thanks for this, not that it applies to me, but it has helped me understand a young friend of mine who left Australia and made her home in Scotland. Apart from the time when her mother was dying, she has only visited once in about fifteen years, and I know it was a stressful trip for her family to fit in all the visits.
    My expat life was never meant to be permanent. We were at the end of our working life, not the beginning, and we left our adult children in Australia, so it was never a consideration that we wouldn’t go back. The five years we lived in America, and the other five in Scotland were exciting and fantastic experiences, but I never felt truly at home. Each time I visited Australia, I felt whole again. We made two visits to each place, after we’d left, to catch up with friends, and although we had fun, it was definitely enough to convince us we didn’t need to go back again.
    Re-adjusting to living in Australia has been difficult, but it hasn’t detracted from my joy of being home again. I imagine the fact that our old friends are in the same age group, and in various stages of retirement and have more time than we had when we were younger and busy with families and jobs, and that we have our children living nearby, changes the dynamics immensely.
    I loved my visits to Switzerland. It’s one of my favourite countries, but I’m very pleased you’re so happy in Australia.

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    • Oh, I can imagine that you would miss the Australian way of living. You guys just have something special going here, you know. Which corner of AUS are you in again?

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