We’re at the tail end of spring, I know, longing for summer to arrive—at least I am, though summer here is not the summer I know from home. Yet I’m waiting for the summer I’m used to—crazy hot, long days at the swimming pool, ice cream and picnics. All things I can have here—though maybe not so much the outdoor swimming pool or the hotter-than-Hades days. This time of year my thoughts always turn back toward home, toward what I miss and the nostalgia rolls over me in waves.
Tomorrow is Memorial Day back in the States, a day to remember all those who fought and died for our freedoms. I want nothing more than to be there, to attend the town parade that starts just around the corner from our house, listen to the marching band and wave at the firefighters, see the library ladies pushing their library trollies down the street in fun costumes and with banners encouraging everyone to read (they were always a highlight), see the kids cycle and march past, representing their various activities and clubs. I want to catch the first rays of a sunburn, head over to the public pool for opening day, wear shorts and eat hamburgers on the back patio. I feel like the school year should be winding down in just a couple of weeks, instead of the 8 more we have to go here. Tomorrow is a “bank holiday” here—a public holiday we have here every May, and the kids are off on their last term break from school this week—and I can’t help but feel it’s time for summer to start. In a few more weeks my son would’ve “clapped out” of his elementary school and prepared to head to middle school in the fall—and I would’ve cried just as much for him as I would’ve for our daughter when she when through the same rite 4 years ago, months before we left for good.
Being an expat, my family has learned, means that someone is always homesick. That someone is usually me. Though while England is ostensibly “home” for my husband, there’s some truth in the old line “You can’t go home again.” You can, physically, go home again, but as he’s found, it’s no longer really home—and maybe nowhere will ever be home again for either of us, not really. It’s something we’ve been aware of for a long time, balancing between two countries and two cultures, both familiar but neither one providing quite the right fit for us all. And maybe it’s harder for me this year because we’re not traveling back to the States this summer, and I’m not going to get a dose of my favorite time of year there.
I’m wishing for time to slow down, for my children to slow their mad dash to adulthood, wanting to go back and relive the things that were. Nothing unusual for anyone who sometimes wants life to slow, or who regrets the missed opportunities to hang on a little longer to the ordinary moments that turn out to mean everything in the grand scheme of things. Lately we’ve been wishing for things we can no longer have. Some of that’s just life and some of that’s just acknowledging that moving here has felt like nothing but a rollercoaster for far too long.
So, dear America, if you see the sun, please send it here. Send my mother’s chocolate chip cookies and applesauce, send the dear friends and family we’ve left behind. Just for a little while, I could use some of the comforts of home.
*”Spring Can Really Hang You up the Most” is a song written by Fran Landesman and Tommy Wolf, based on the first line of T.S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land: “April is the cruelest month” If you want to hear the song, I recommend the versions by either Ella Fitzgerald or Bette Midler.