We arrived back in Dublin more than four weeks ago. I still don’t feel quite settled. Since December 12th, I have slept in 8 different beds. Constantly moving like that is surprisingly stressful, and mentally tiring. And it has robbed me of the “coming home” sense that I felt entitled to after nearly three years away.
Moving to a new place is big, and strange and scary. You don’t know anyone, and mundane things are alien – did you know that America uses a very different font on its street signs? – and all of this serves to underline the fact that you are somewhere else. After a few weeks, you know your own neighbourhood well enough that you have a favourite place for coffee, and you have met some people who may become friends. Over months and eventually years, you carve out a space that is yours, and you become comfortable.
Moving to somewhere you have lived before is a different experience – you are already familiar with the place, with the street-signs and with the people. But small changes stick out a lot, and are jarring – that petrol station used to have different branding, and that pub that I never went into has closed down! After a long enough time, a place that once was as close as your skin can feel alien and grating.
It doesn’t help that I’m back in Seattle after less than a month away. This is a great opportunity to see friends that I was worried about leaving behind, and it makes a business trip feel significantly less onerous. But it’s a very strange feeling – this is the first time I’ve taken a taxi from the airport alone in years – and I have a better idea of where I want to eat than I do in Dublin.
All this is to say that travel is an odd experience, and moving homes even more so. I don’t quite know where I feel at home just yet, because I haven’t had a chance to settle. I don’t really have a solid conclusion for this post, which I recognise is unsatisfying. But then, I have fouind this period of living as a peripatetic is also pretty unsatisfying too, so maybe that works.
Theme song for the week: