During a recent conversation with a person whose opinion I appreciate very much, a simple and spontaneous question was asked - do you feel at home in the USA? I "sat down" for a moment and began to wonder about the meaning of the concept of home. Has enough time passed to answer this question? What are the criteria for assessing whether a given place is our home or not? Or maybe we have criteria that make it practically impossible? So we made a little examination of conscience.
This year it will be 4 years since we moved overseas. Dang! Only now do we realize how much time has passed and how quickly the next months pass! When we talk to people who have been living here for 15-20 years, we say to ourselves "a lot of time", meanwhile we are also efficient at adding more numbers of years.
I remember us then - scared rookies who are hesitant to be shoved into strange vehicles at Dulles Airport in Washington. I remember landing in Raleigh at night and my first morning at a hotel with a view of the completely different world. I remember racing thoughts, palpitations and wondering "how the f!$k are we going to do it?". Fast forward to this day - there is no trace of those scared freshmen. We've sorted out all the urgent matters, arranged our lives, reduced our stress levels to acceptable conditions, and enjoyed living in North Carolina.
In order to feel this inner peace, we had to deal with many aspects that were missing at the beginning of our adventure. In addition to paperwork, offices and all formalities, we also had to take care of simple matters that allowed us to have some healthy mental balance. First of all, we were done with the "student lifestyle" and decided to settle in here as it should be done. We made our house a comfortable place, met new people, started meeting in pubs and at parties, we found new interests, and somewhere in our life the routine and peace that we had left behind in Poland, which we had missed at the beginning of our stay in the States, reappeared. Such simple things as favorite restaurants, meeting places, activities, etc. have helped us smoothly enter a new stage of life and allowed us to feel if we are in a place that we really like.
The first flight from the US to Poland was like salvation and a moment of breathing in all this madness. Our still strong attachment to everything we left behind made us reluctantly gather for the flight back to America. But that had only been a few months since we moved, for the first Christmas. We knew that in the US there were a lot of things to do and a lot of situation when we would have to leave our comfort zone and face completely new challenges. The last glance out the window of the hovering plane was followed by a deep sigh. But we went back, started traveling more, getting to know new places and coming back to Carolina every single time. We have dealt with most of the things, so our thoughts were much calmer. And so we slowly began to appreciate the place where we live. The next departures to Poland were of course full of joy, but we slowly began to feel that our life was starting to settle overseas. We didn't come back anymore with our souls on our shoulders, scared and confused. We returned to a place appearing to be our "new home" ...
Today I look back at these 4 years and wonder if we feel at home here in NC. There is no unambiguous thought in the head, we still don't know how we should define "home". We are fine, we have each other, we fulfill ourselves in life, we keep moving on. Maybe this is it? We are probably still blocked by the issue of the Green Card process which has some degree of uncertainty. Maybe when we'll close this case, we'll breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe it will just come by itself one fine day, quite unexpectedly. It is good at the moment, we will see what life will bring in the near future.