In the last few days, though they were golden, I’ve begun feeling nostalgic. Almost six years ago, when I left my first, my native home in Germany for the first time, this sentiment was still quite new to me, but at this point, I’ve at least built up muscle memory that prevents me from freaking out about it. Because really, this feeling never changes – not really anyway. And, you know, it doesn’t get better or even go away either, and it probably never will. So here we go:
Truly, ever since I’ve begun living across the big blue pond, the term ‘traveling’ has been redefined in the context of my life. Prior to leaving for America for the first time in the summer of 2007, traveling used to be a spacial discovery defined by timely brevity; it was about taking in different languages and stories and sights and smells and foods and music. Manifestly, it was about passing by rather than participating in, because at the end of the day/week/month, I would return home. So why invest.
Today, after having lived in Georgia, Massachusetts, and DC over the course of six incredible formative years, the term ‘traveling’ has been expanded to ‘living via voyage’. Truly, it has become my creating of homeness within the foreign, the sometimes seeming incomprehensible and therefore uncomfortable. Today, traveling to me is my life journey that consists of strungtogetherhomes of which the breathing walls are made up of human relationships. Literature sometimes calls this immigrating, I gather.
In order to keep moving in my life, I’ve had to find a way to frame my relationships without letting the (often only momentary but nonetheless inevitable) loss of them tear up my being. My bandaid-way of dealing with this sensitive-due-to-perpetual-bruising spot has become the ‘arrival frame’ (Term copyright by me. Literature has never seen this term before, I checked thoroughly.) rather than the ‘leaving frame’. The practical application of this abstraction is manifested by my taking the relational memories with me but always keeping my eyes on the road ahead of me. In this, I try my best to remain joyfully embedded in the Now while always anticipating the Next Few Steps so I can be ready for what’s ahead and always, always accommodate in order to minimize heart-damage in myself – and also others. I guess psychology calls that Protection Mechanisms. Because whenever I do catch myself indulging in looking back for too long, I grow weary and tired; it seems foreign to human physiology.
My two-month mark for moving away from DC just passed the other day, and it is undoubtedly weighing on me. I’ve grown to love this place, even though I’ve also outgrown it in especially its harsh, elitist, judgmental heteronormativity. At the end of the day, however, reality is that much of my emotionality has been embedded into these familiar, ever-changing streets. And this reality makes departing quite the draining endeavor.