Where am I?

20 02 2008

Today marks the one-week anniversary of my homecoming. Dramatic, I know, but it is a strange thing to be home. Really strange. For seven nights I have slept in my own bed, for six days I have enjoyed (and overused) the pleasures of a guaranteed hot shower, and for six days (ok, five) I have felt like a normal, non-traveling New Yorker again.

And yet, though it seems I have been home much longer than a week, all is still extremely different. I still enter shops and cafes expecting to hear and speak Spanish, I still crave my daily alfajor (even though I gave up sweets for Lent, but, admittedly, started Lent a week late: last Wednesday, when I arrived home). Although it’s a relief not roaming the streets with the heavy squirrel on my back, I’m having separation anxiety, andm save for an unseemly (and joyously) warm Monday, my usual whining about the bone-chilling New York winter is only exacerbated every time I see my summer-lovin’ tan in the mirror.

Needless to say, I am still wallowing in my “I just went on a great trip and now have to return to the real world” self-pity. But all is not terrible. Being home means many good things too: a blissfully overwhelming choice of clean clothing at my fingertips every day, grocery shopping and subsequent cooking, catching up with family and friends.

I have learned that there is a touch of celebrity associated with long travels. While gone, I was touched and thrilled at the amount of emails and blog comments that came in from both those with whom I am in constant contact and those I talk to only a few times a year. Now home, my back-in-service phone has been making up for lost time, in frequent use as I catch up with all those I haven’t spoken to for weeks and months. My weekend was full of drinks and brunches, and I am no where near done seeing and talking to everyone.

The best part about it (besides the overwhelming sense of how many amazing people I am fortunate enough to have in my life) is that every time I talk to someone new I get to relive the trip. Every time I have some new realization as to what it all meant to me: what I learned from traveling alone, the strength I derived from climbing a mountain, my aspirations to become New York’s favorite tango dancer…

And so, though all signs (and cold, cold winds) point to my being home in New York, I am also, at least in part, still in South America. And maybe always will be.

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