He's said it better than I ever could. A selection of those passages that reflect my current state:
Home is more than hallways of photographs recording the changes in photographic tones over the years. Home is a place to remember the years which connect us to one another. A glow of the familiar brightened by a glass of wine. Home isn't a place so much as a collection of sympathetic ears and imagined camaraderie.
Home is a kind word. Home is mutual admiration. Home is a pack mentality.
Stay away from home long enough and when you return, don't be surprised if you've been slowly roasted on a spit.
Don't be surprised if the exotic silks and Middle Eastern throw rugs, the alabaster figurines, the Tibetan artifacts are not oohed and ahhed over but given a cursory, envious, not-too-deep beneath the surface of a facade of welcome home--"oh, thanks."
Take your ex-pat Humphrey Bogart dreams, your wanderlust fuck fantasies of being an ex-pat and remember to play it--stay gone a year, maybe two, no more than three--then you can return home and maybe family and friends will want to hear of the places you've been, maybe they'll want a narrative to go along with the photographs again.
But beyond that--remember--the friends you leave behind, the family you keep close to your heart while you take the bus to the train to the tuk-tuk to the trails do not keep you close to their hearts--and remember don't be bitter.
You made the choice.
You are not well remembered because you got away from the routine of hallways and brats with big ears. You have chosen to be an expat. Your father will die and maybe you'll rush home. Your mother will die and maybe you'll rush home.
But don't be so foolish as to believe that your remaining family members don't have bones to pick with you--a well rehearsed diatribe--they'll be waiting for you. Like cats waiting for prey: stock still, barely breathing.
Home is a family that preys together.
Do not be surprised when you return to your home town, after an absence of more than five maybe ten years and you are greeted by the force of outrage and hatred. You are not the intrepid explorer of your wet dreams. You are a coward and you ran from familial endurance.
You are not someone who thought that out there you might be able to do a little good for those who don't have hallways and wine glows of jibber jabber, you are selfish, self-centered--outcast--and the greater the love you may still feel for those you left behind, the greater the joy those left behind take in withholding a kind word.
Return with money.
Return with dreams.
Expect that [family & friends] may more aggressively than passively do what they can to wake you from the fantasy. Family and friends resent their own ignorance and feel that their lives have been wasted when they hear of the places you have been, the people you have met--events they can only see in movies, on NOVA, on the Discovery channel or read about in a Reader's Digest, maybe glimpse in a two-year old National Geographic in an HMO.
It will be their fury that will drive you from your home if you have it in mind to return to this place. Play ex-pat. Stay gone a year, maybe two, no more than five. Beyond that your home is where you are, not where you came from. Dream about the past. But do not be so foolish as to believe that it will ever be something you can hold in your hand again.
Thomas Wolfe famously said you can't go home again and that is not just a message for expatriates but a warning they should embrace or at the very least heed. Be mindful of the reputed horrors of reverse culture shock and dissatisfied with the lifestyle and job prospects at home, many expatriates eventually find out that they have to stay abroad, even if it means leaving a life time of memories and dubiously sincere embraces behind--forever.
Home is not a place where you will receive civility and the occasional ’Have a great day.' Home is where you may be attacked or intimidated to the point of mutual abject fear and loathing. Where you once thought of yourself as a guest or visitor may now be your home--but you will also be nothing more than a guest or visitor there. Where can you live? You can return to that place you thought of as home but remember that you are now a tourist and ugly national in a hostile area--imagine your drunken brothers-inlaw carrying machetes, in your mind put your sisters and brothers in sarongs. Participate in rituals but don't go bush--don't offer to help marinade the steaks or toss a football with a nephew.
You may tolerated briefly but surely someone has you, this loathesome, irresponsible savior cum stranger fixed in their crosshairs.
David notes that this diatribe is "where I am now. I have never lived
overseas and NOT thought about returning home--until now. I'm inching
towards acceptance. I dunno. I've never been to Utah. "