33 Comments
Jan 11Liked by Samantha Childress

I'm currently caught in the same liminal space between travel and home, and feel so much of what you describe here. Have been in the UK for about 4 weeks now, with two weeks left to run, before heading back to Europe. As much as it is lovely to see family and friends, it is weird not to have your own space when you're so used to having it. Living in your Mum's house (or girlfriend's parents') with no proper address of your own feels something akin to failure, even though it was my choice, and the result of something as boring as visa restrictions (looking at you, Brexit!). Then you feel a bit guilty for feeling this way at all, rather than just being grateful for the hospitality and chance to spend time with loved ones, but at the same time kind of look forward to getting back to life proper. Feels like your existence is on ice for this period, doesn't it?

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Exactly--it's like being in a holding pattern, waiting for the plane to take off. And I definitely get the guilt! I constantly feel like I should be doing something to make the most out of my time here, and that's tiring.

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Jan 11Liked by Samantha Childress

Can’t decide if this quote is profoundly sad or sadly profound:

“After months of invading the spaces of others—of tiptoeing around in the early mornings and asking permission to do my laundry—I’ve come to believe that home isn’t where your heart is, it’s where your stuff is. “

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❤️ it’s definitely a sad realization to come to.

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Jan 11Liked by Samantha Childress

I experienced home leave in the dark ages, before the Internet was much of a thing. I was also young and single. For me, the hardest part was that with each post, I added dimensions to myself. My Foreign Service friends understood that, but my family and other friends did not. The only two things I remember appreciating/missing, which were not available internationally were NPR and frozen yogurt. The world is so much more connected now and you can get almost anything almost anywhere. And yes, as you point out, life in the US has gotten frenzied. One of the most appealing aspects of international living is finding places and cultures where the pace of life is slower. Good luck with your move!

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Alison, you put this so beautifully--“with each post, I added dimensions to myself.” Cairo was our first post, but that is very much how it feels: as if it helped me discover aspects of myself I wouldn’t have otherwise known were there. I hope the same happens in Amman! ❤️

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Jan 16Liked by Samantha Childress

What A pic! Love it! I’m trying to figure out where the camera and photographer were. Able to shed light? I assume so!

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Thank you, Phyllis! ☺️ I took this photo from my window seat on a regular commercial plane—I pressed my phone right up against the glass so you don’t see the window frame or any glare.

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Jan 12Liked by Samantha Childress

Thank you for the nice piece of writing, soon I will be in a similar situation, so I can feel your "struggle",

I understand the going back "home" but not feeling at home and don't know where you belong. Best of luck with Jordan!

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Thank you, Flavio! It’s nice to see you here--I have been loving all the pictures you’re sharing on Notes 😊

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Jan 12Liked by Samantha Childress

Oh thank you! ❤️

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Jan 12Liked by Samantha Childress

This was a lovely piece of writing, Samantha. I understand how living abroad changes who you are and how difficult it can be to go home again.

There is a quote by Mary Anne Radmacher Hershey that I love: "I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”

Living abroad does change us. But I am eternally grateful that I have had the opportunity to experience new people and cultures and stories.

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What a gorgeous quote that is, Clarice. I agree--the longer I live abroad, the more I feel that it helps us come home to ourselves and discover who we’re meant to be.

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Always adore your writing, Sam. You put into words what’s so hard to say, the feeling that you can’t really go home again after a certain point, especially when you’ve been away for a long time; you carry home with you, make a nest wherever you land, and that becomes home. Can’t wait to hear about your next one!

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❤️ thank you, Ruth! It’s a tough feeling to put your finger on, isn’t it? It doesn’t happen right away...it’s a slow creep. But I have high hopes for Jordan.

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It's fascinating to read the take of someone living outside the US, but in a totally different fashion from us. To some folks it must seem like we're constantly living in a liminal space, but it never feels that way. I'm currently sitting in our Airbnb looking out at the ocean and this weirdly feels like home even though we've only been here ten days. Then again, I almost feel that way after just a day or two. Maybe it's because we own more stuff than we can carry?

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Interesting point! I think that’s definitely part of it for me--the things that make me feel at home are more than what I can fit in a suitcase (maybe that’s a good argument to start practicing a bit more minimalism, ha). Funnily enough, the ocean can make me feel at home just about anywhere. It’s soothing and life-affirming to look at and listen to. I’m envious that you can see it from your Air BnB!

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Well, I TOTALLY DID NOT just get back from watching the sunrise over the ocean. Nope, didn't happen. I'm just sitting here in the basement nibbling on dried toast....

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😂 thank you for sparing me from an afternoon stewing over how I’d rather be in your shoes right now!!

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Jan 11Liked by Samantha Childress

My heart aches for you, caught in this liminal space.

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This too shall pass! Thank you for reading, Julie ❤️❤️

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Jan 20Liked by Samantha Childress

Yes! At age 55 I and my spouse are living with his parents. He’s on leave and we honestly don’t know where we want to live. Most of our stuff is in storage and I miss my things... my mugs, my jewelry, my junk drawer, etc.

I have a mountain of laundry to do today because I worry about interrupting my mother in law’s laundry routine.

But I love the moments we are sharing with them, right now I am sitting in the kitchen watching her make a cabbage casserole that she hasn’t made in years. Her vision is poor and she has dementia so I can help her if she needs it. ❤️

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That is so sweet, Mary. In the end, those special moments--like watching your mother-in-law make her cabbage casserole--are well worth missing your stuff for awhile.

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Jan 21Liked by Samantha Childress

I agree!! She told me after dinner how glad she is that I’m here to help her. I think it’s exactly where we are meant to be at this time.

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Sam, this is a stunning post - I can relate in so many ways!

Sending love. Changes of location or circumstance are always hard work, but there are so many unexpected gifts along the way. All will be well.

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❤️❤️ thank you, Rebecca. You’re right, it’s hard work, but it’s the price of admission for the wonderful adventure that is to come--a price I’m more than willing to pay.

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Jan 12Liked by Samantha Childress

I LOVED this Sam. London sounds a lot like Washington in ridiculously long waits for things and very little proper relaxing time. Everything seems go go go fairly constantly!

I hope Jordan feels like home for you - I'm really excited to read what you write about it!

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Thanks, Tom! I’m very excited to dig in and start writing about Jordan...it will happen soon enough! And yes, I think London and D.C. have somewhat similar feels. London is a lot hipper obviously, but both very high-energy. Higher energy than I’m willing to deal with anymore, lol

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Jan 11Liked by Samantha Childress

Thank you for so eloquently capturing what many of us Americans who live abroad feel when we come back home – right down to “my mom seems more attached to her dog than me!” (Been there)

I was in the States in November and I struggled with trying to stay grateful for the ability to spend time with love ones while also just wanting to be HOME with my space, my stuff, and my rules. I felt so out of touch with the US, too, like I could live anywhere in the world but not there.

I’ve loved your writing from Egypt and I wish you the best of luck with your move to Jordan!

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Yes, this is exactly it! There is a kind of unsettling guilt when you don’t feel at home where you think you should. I just want to have my childhood home, the family and friends I love, and all my stuff in one place! Thank you so much for reading 💕

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Jan 11Liked by Samantha Childress

Samantha, I adored this and it made me feel seen, cackle aloud because I have been you in the ramen restaurant, and totally relate to that conversation at parties now. I'm Australian and conscious that I can't situate with American culture having had no firsthand experience of it, however I feel the same now going home to Australia. Countless things I can't put into words, countless moments where I realise that I only feel like myself now in a completely foreign life abroad where we're waiting to get our things shipped out, too. Somehow the stuff that fits into backpacks feels more like home than the family house or the supermarkets I can navigate with eyes closed two minutes before closing. Hang in there -- hoping there's some sweet pockets in the days left of Home Leave xx ps please send me a message if you're in Georgia later in the year! Can wholeheartedly recommend travelling here -- this train from Turkey to Georgia looks incredible! https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2023/sep/23/on-the-midnight-express-train-across-turkey

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Aoife, that train looks amazing! Train travel is highly underrated, imho. It can be such a neat way to maximize your travel time and see more of a country! Here’s hoping that we can meet in Georgia next year (and if you’re ever out my way, do drop me a line!!) ❤️

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deletedJan 11Liked by Samantha Childress
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😂 thank you Kimia! The suitcase conundrum is the worst. We keep having to rent cars and Nick is always like “what if our bags don’t fit in the back of this Kia Soul” and I’m like...that literally would have never occurred to me, lol

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