Every year we go back for the holidays, I’m left with a strange mix of emotions.

We haven’t lived in the US since 2008. It’s been a long time to be away.

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Increasingly, I’m aware that I want to be closer to home physically and culturally—and that I want my son to be raised as some sort of participant in the culture of my birth.

But this doesn’t always mean that the time home is smooth. It’s mixed with irritation too. Studies say, the more partners you have before marriage, the less likely you are to be satisfied afterwards.  I wonder if it’s like that with choosing a place to live. When the US was all I ever knew, I could hardly complain about the lack of public transportation and corresponding traffic and poor air quality or the obsession with guns and violence. Now that I know it’s possible to live without those value clashes it’s harder to swallow them. But no place is perfect, you see, so you just have to swallow SOMETHING, no matter where you are. I just think it’s a little easier when you haven’t had the wide berth of experiences we have had.

Then there’s the fact that you’ve changed a lot over the course of the year, and you only see family once a year. And there’s the fact THEY’VE experienced life changing events that you didn’t know about until you come home for the holidays, sometimes. And so you’re trying to interact with each other in the old ways, but we’re all different people.

Ryder loves the US. He loves Texas. He loves Utah. He loves Missouri. (He loves Iowa, though maybe he sees it as an extension of Missouri).  If I put myself in his shoes, he gets to be with adults who he’s known since birth and who do nothing but fun things with him all day, and who buy him toys. He doesn’t have stressors of being a child with a different language, and he has his cousins his age he can play with.

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I feel fortunate that just yet, I don’t feel like I ‘can’t fit in’ which is what some Triangles (people spread between home and living abroad and then returning) report upon returning to the States.

Having lived abroad, they feel the topics of their conversations are now different; their understanding of the world is incompatible with their neighbors; and they just want to leave again.

I actively resist that idea. I love rituals and traditions and could happily embrace old ones again, should we return. I would never want to feel like I could not connect to old friends and family just because I have lived abroad. I will now forever be more liberal and open-minded after my experiences, but that also includes being open-minded to the traditions of my past self and home.

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