Home Is … Where?

I returned to Peru on Monday after a two week visit to the States.  The trip was exhausting, but great.  I attended my friends’ wedding in the North Woods, crammed in dates with as many family and friends as possible, ate and drank at many of my favorite Milwaukee establishments (Distil,  Lalli’s Pizza, Kopps, Harbor House, to name a few) and shopped for my list of random items.  My first morning home I spent an hour in Walgreens and was giddy from all the choices I could make when buying sundries. Thank goodness my retail excitement had waned by the time I hit Target later in the trip or who knows how many hours (or dollars) I would have wasted there.

But as I suspected would occur when I set off, I returned to Peru feeling adrift.  Not unhappy, just disoriented.  In Milwaukee, I was in my comfort zone – I was surrounded by people who know me well, had my car, knew where I was going, spoke the language, understood the customs and enjoyed all the comforts of the U.S.  But I don’t have a home there.  In fact, over the course of 12 nights I stayed in 5 different places.  I was a visitor, which felt odd given that I was in the city of my birth and my hometown for most of my life.  Toward the end of the trip, I was looking forward to being “home” in Peru, with my routine, house, bed and, of course, Matt.

But back in Peru, I remained unsettled.  I had to readjust to the dust and litter, the crumbling sidewalks, the stares on the street and the language barrier.  But there was also the familiar: Matt, our house, the mountains, the route from the airport, the egg vendor who asked where I had been.  We don’t plan to live in Peru forever, but we also don’t anticipate returning to the U.S. after we leave Peru.  I have one foot in each place, without being committed to either.  I have asked other expats where they feel their homes are or when they felt the U.S. was no longer home, and the responses varied.  Some feel the U.S. is always home, others say after a few years or a few moves they felt that each new place was home.

In order to combat this discombobulated feeling, I decided to make Peru more homey, even if our time here is limited to a few years.   To that end I have been on a shopping spree to finish outfitting our house with some of the miscellaneous items that we hadn’t bothered to get around to buying, such as a second guest bed (we are open for visitors!), a lamp, couch pillows and a coat tree.  There are a few more items on the list but I am not going to delay due to the uncertainty as to how long Peru will be our home.

Bottom line: my heart will always be in Wisconsin, even if my home is elsewhere.

7 thoughts on “Home Is … Where?

  1. My husband Skip has many friends from Asian countries. It is much more common for them to spend time away from and even live in different countries than their families. If you ask them where their “home” is, they will always respond: “Wherever my wife lives.” It sounds like you found that wherever Matt is, is your home.

  2. Glad you had a Energy wonderful trip back to WI! I love the comment about the egg vendor asking where you were! Sounds like Peru is becoming home. I think home can be more of a feeling than one place. There is a quote I’ll have to share with you when I find the small frame that it’s in!

  3. I know the feeling Kerry from my Italy adventures …. I always considered myself having two homes… Who says you can only have one at a time? The US which would always be comfortable and I could come back to and the other which was new, adventurous and temporary. The best of both worlds! Glad you enjoyed your trip back and continue to enjoy Peru!

  4. I recognise your unsettledness, although we haven’t had the same culture shock (in the Falklands) as you and Matt have experienced. I read an interesting book a few months back – “If you come ashore, we will kiill you and eat you”. An interesting tale of a US lawyer studying in Australia, meeting a Kiwi, and ……I won’t spoil it for you, but there was a lot in there about where “home” is these days. It may give you a new perspective to what you are experiencing just now. We are currently holed up in Colca Canyon, felling dizzy at over 12,500feet. Looking forward to sea level again! . Peter & Annie

    • Thanks for the book suggestion, Peter. I will definitely check it out. We ended up spending an extra day in Lima for Matt to get his residency card, so maybe Peru will feel more like home (to him anyhow)!

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