I have a story about this candle.
It was given to my husband and me as a wedding gift 3 years ago. In case you don’t know this popular European tradition, it’s a celebration candle. Each year on a special anniversary, you burn it to mark the passage of time.
We had never burned it until this year on January 1st. And it seemed fitting considering it’s our 3rd and final year in Japan. A milestone to be sure.
But then I got distracted and forgot to blow out the flame. I burned it all the way down to the 5th year mark.
In some ways, the mishap reflects my relationship with time these past few years.
Since 2008, time has crawled by, and I mean– practically slow motion.
It’s been nice to enjoy a slower pace, but more than a few times I desperately wanted, even prayed for time to go faster. Living in Okinawa has been meaningful, but it’s been a complicated experience too. I’ve often wondered here if my expat “phase” had expired.
And now we’re preparing to return home in 6 months. Time is taking on a new dimension AGAIN.
Days are whizzing by and I feel new emotions stirring.
Last night, we tried a restaurant in a different part of town, and it struck me there are undiscovered parts of this island to explore. Hurry, before it’s too late!
And what about the volunteer job I wanted to do in Nepal? Oh, and that yoga retreat in Bali?
I also have to face the truth that I’m getting anxious about reentering the States again. Reinventing myself professionally. Buying a house. Getting stuck in traffic. Not keeping up with the Jones’.
I’ve repatriated to the States twice before, and I know it’s an emotional process.
I’m thrilled to be on my own country’s soil again, enjoy different educational opportunities, and eat Mexican food.
But I also know how living abroad can rewire one’s value system ever so slightly in ways that aren’t compatible with frameworks at home. It’s work to protect those new perspectives and lifestyle habits.
But I suppose this is all normal reaction, right? I mean, transplanting yourself to another country for 3 years is BIG, and moving home again is equally BIG, isn’t it?
What’s been your relationship to time while living abroad? How have you coped with reentering your own country again?