Thanksgiving is a very American holiday, and it is celebrated in a very predictable manner. Delicious smells in the house; family; football games (preferably with the volume turned down); and a familiar frenzy of energy. It served to cast my homecoming into an interesting light: normalcy.
“How does it feel to be home?” they’d ask.
“Normal,” I said, laughing, “freakishly normal.”
This sense was exaggerated by having my friends home for Thanksgiving, too. I had many a happy rendezvous, but the thing was that I always meet them at this time of year. An occasional story of New Zealand excursions was all that I had to remind me I’d been away.
While I experienced no jet lag, and I otherwise made a smooth transition to life as before…it feels so much like life as before that I struggle believing I was ever gone. And so all my talk, hoping I’d feel deeply changed by the gardens and waters of New Zealand, sits in my memories like the remnants of a dream. It’s disconcerting, trying to see past the normalcy to integrate my travels with my life here.
One night I dreamed of New Zealand: of my host family, and climbing mountains, and clear blue waters. Though I will be slow to interpret dreams with much weight, I do believe dreams help us process issues in our lives…sort of a sleepy rumination.
I’ll have been home for two weeks as of tomorrow night. It doesn’t feel like that long, yet it feels much longer. I don’t know how but I will somehow continue dealing with having been gone and come back. Integrating my travels into my daily life will have to happen somehow. I will wear New Zealand like a tattoo I feel constantly but don’t always show. And a tattoo never fades, just like I will never forget Aotearoa.