Inflight Slippers and Homelessness: What It’s Like to Come Home After a Long Time Abroad
Hometown Language Barriers
I spent most of the time at home, catching up with friends, seeing homes they’d bought, spouses they’d married and children they’d added to those new homes and new families. They asked about life in Thailand, and I tried to paint an accurate picture of beautiful temples and flooded freeways. Most of them hadn’t spent a lot of time abroad and we were mostly speaking different languages to each other.
I made a spectacle of myself by occasionally bowing to extremely confused strangers and responding in a language that must have sounded like a Kanye West album played backwards. I could only handle a certain amount of social and English interaction before feeling overwhelmed and retreating inside my shell. Swap out the English for Thai, and it was the same as my first few months in Thailand — only my hometown was the foreign land now.
All those articles I read about being an expat on a trip home seemed desperate, scared and lonely. But on my flight back to Thailand, when I realized that seat 44E made more sense to me than Bangkok or Portland. I felt content.
I had left home looking to experience more of the world than a two week vacation could afford, warts and all. Traveling does strange things to our lives. That’s why most choose the trials and tribulations of mortgages and diapers over language barriers and mystery meals. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with either, but don’t let those blog posts everyone shares on Facebook deter you—inflight slippers and homelessness are a lot better than they sound.