Does anyone else ever feel that tingly, strange sense of being set just slightly off from the rest of the world?
Like when you tear open a new package of printer paper, select a sheet from the very middle of the stack, and pull it out. You unsettle or slightly shift seemingly every single piece of paper inside and no matter how much you tap, shake, or shimmy that package they are never going to sit quite the same as they did before.
It feels like that.
I’m not sure if this feeling is tied directly to living overseas (or anywhere far from home) but it always affects me in relation to the time I spent living abroad during college.
I was fortunate enough to study abroad for a semester in Chile and I truly believe that this experience was the single most telling, belief shaping, self-awareness developing time of my entire existence thus far.
(Becoming a parent comes in a close second!)
I lived with a wonderful host family who really integrated me into the culture. I attended classes and lived in different (although geographically close-together) cities which enabled me to explore multiple neighborhoods each with very unique vibes and atmospheres. I also had the unique good fortune to have “family” (in the form of foreign exchange students who had lived in my home during my high school years) nearby.
Every once in a while I will be taking care of some mundane task around the house and will experience a feeling of disconnect, not unlike deja vu. It’s as if I cannot reconcile myselves.
The “me” that is standing here, loading the dishwasher, doesn’t seem like the same girl who flew to South America on her own. Who helped her elementary aged host brothers with their English homework, turned heads everywhere she went with her staggering height and blondness, took shared taxis all over the city, and rode the train to class and back.
That glamorous, impossibly young girl was never covered in gross things like I am. She slept as long as she wanted, read books not made of cardboard, and danced the night away in discotecas until 6 am because there was no such thing as “bar time”.
Sometimes I can’t believe that I am her.
Well, I was her.
However, as soon as I start thinking about it, I feel her. In the knowledge that I cannot wait for my kids to be a little bigger so that I can take them there. Chile. I want to walk the streets with them. I feel the yearning for her freedom; from nap schedules, meal plans, and “the daily grind”. There is beauty in this day to day stuff no doubt, but it’s a different beauty. A beauty of hindsight rather than in-the-moment glamour.
And someday I’d like that glamour back, thankyouverymuch.
I actually enjoy these moments of disconnectedness to myself, if only because it is a visceral reminder that I am more than this person I am during the current season of my life. The one who hasn’t worn makeup in a week, only ever wears her hair in a ponytail or messy bun, and the one who’s needs constantly come last.
A little older, hopefully a little wiser and with more patience, but still me.