I’m waiting to board my flight for the U.S., my country of birth, my culture, my home.
The emotions have been running through me the way that I imagine personalities run through schizophrenic patients. They’re crazy, then anxious, then sad, then overjoyed, visiting my mind one after another, sometimes staying longer than I anticipate and eventually leaving behind an empty space.
I picture myself walking off the plane, proceeding through customs with a giddy smile on my face. The officer will ask me, “What is the purpose of your visit?” and I’ll reply, “I’m here to see my family.” I’ll want to add, “…And I haven’t been home in over two years,” but I won’t. I’ll keep it to myself because I know he or she won’t care.
I imagine when I see my family at the airport, I’ll cry. I always cry when I think of seeing my Mom after a long time. Whenever I anticipate crying, I don’t. So, I’ll just smile and give her a hug and kiss. If I think about my emotions too much, I just end repressing them. I can’t cry when I should.
I think about the familiar places that I’ll visit and the friends that have known me for over a decade. Will they think I’m different? How will they act? What will people say?
I imagine stupid little things, like going into CVS and finding makeup brushes that I really like and thinking, “Ugh I could never buy this quality for this price in Hong Kong.” Then, I’ll start seeing familiar things, like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and think, “Man, I miss these.” People will be polite and hold doors for me, and everyone will speak perfect, unaccented English in full and coherent sentences. I’ll get used to this for a week, and I’ll miss it while it’s right in front of me. And then I’ll think, “Why am I not here? I don’t want to go back, I want to stay here! My family is here, my friends, good job opportunities, and easy access to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.”
What if I just go and suddenly decide I NEED to stay? What if I think to myself: “I need this, I can’t do this anymore, living abroad, living away from home.” Everything I’ve done in Hong Kong will feel like a distant dream, and that everything that has happened only happened because I wrote it down. Like Christopher Nolan’s character in “Momento.” Every day is not a new day, but a stale day, a story that only continues because I have to believe that events have occurred in prior days. The places will have little significance to me, the people that I’ve met were just names scribbled down in a journal, and everything that has happened was vaguely imagined.
Can I go home and ignore the past two years, pick up where I left off and just blend back into the American mix? I usually think not. It’ll be too hard; I’ll feel too distant and too claustrophobic. The moment I settle down, will I just feel like I’ve fallen into another layer of dreaming?