Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of home. I keep having the moment of thinking, “I want to go home”, and not really knowing where that is. Is Sayausí home? Is Michigan? Is it both? Neither?
I don’t think home is a single defined place for me right now. All I know is that I find pieces of home scattered about.
The scent of honeysuckle and the sound of barking dogs is home.
Making empanadas and drinking sweet black coffee with Charlie’s sisters is home.
The bus ride from the corner of Hermano Miguel to Corazón de Jesús is home.
Being with Fellows is home.
Arriving back to Cuenca after Learning Seminars feels like coming home.
But so does turning off the highway at the exit that leads to my house.
So does seeing snow fall in the first few days of December.
So does the smell of pancakes on lazy Saturday mornings.
So does the sound of my screen door slamming shut in the summer.
So does staying up making brownies with my friends until 5am.
I have found a home here. But there is another part of home that I miss. A side of it that I can’t wait to get back to. I’m ready to go back to Michigan and see my friends and family and return to normalcy.
I feel guilty for wanting to leave. For being ready to go home. It’s a constant battle of thinking to the future and trying my hardest to stay in the present. We’re at the point in the year that I actually have to start thinking about what comes next. I was talking on the phone to my dad about summer job opportunities and he said something that stuck with me: “Wow. I never thought we’d get to the point of thinking about what comes after Ecuador.”
It’s unavoidable at this point. I have to buy my return flights home. I have to figure out what I’m going to do with myself this summer. I have to start thinking about college in the fall. How am I supposed to juggle all of these things while staying in the moment? I feel like I’m wasting my last few precious weeks here thinking ahead to the future. But how can I not?
I remember a conversation I had with another volunteer at my apprenticeship. He was preparing to head back home to Austria after a year in Ecuador, and we were talking about what we have both learned from being here. He brought up how the pace of life is different in Ecuador than it is in Austria, and the pros and cons that come with it. We both find it beautiful how little stress Ecuadorian culture holds for the future. Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from the taking-it-day-by-day approach. Hell, most Americans start planning for retirement when they’re in their thirties. And yet, he complained that no projects ever get finished due to a lack of planning. Taking-it-day-by-day does not lead to much efficiency.
There is something valuable about living so in the moment though. As fast as these past few months have flown by, I think I’ve learned to live a little slower and seen the benefits of taking things one day at a time. I think recently I’ve begun to lose that mindset with all this talk of what the future looks like. It’s hard to ~live in the moment~ when every other thought pulls me ahead to what lies beyond the next two months.
I’m doing my best to fully appreciate the last few weeks I have here in Ecuador. I’m trying to savor the meals I have with my host family, the moments of laughter and tears with Fellows, the tranquilo and consistent feel of the air here.
I never thought that leaving Ecuador would be just as complicated as leaving Michigan.
I guess it all comes down to this: Soon I will be coming home, and yet, somehow I already am.