I’m catching a flight home to England today. It’ll be the first time in 7 months that I’ve been back to Blighty and, as usual, I’ve got that familiar feeling of excitement and dread that settles in roughly a week before my flight. I call it The Fear.
The Fear is the eagerness to see my family again, and the excitement of catching up with friends who welcome us back like we’ve never been away.
It’s the comfort of being Home, with a capital H, surrounded by things I love – like Marmite on toast (yes I know), Cadbury’s chocolate, intravenous tea, bacon sandwiches, Yorkshire Puddings, polite queuing and phrases like “We shall see,” “Can’t be helped,” and “Righto.”
It’s the relief of being back in a world that I understand implicitly – no language barriers, no confusion about how things work, how to dress or what customs I should follow.
But The Fear is also the unease of returning to somewhere that’s familiar, but somehow different; noticing degrees of evolution in a place I thought never changed.
It’s the worry of being THAT person who only contributes to conversations with sentences starting: “When I was in <far-flung country> doing <amazing thing>…” Ugh.
It’s the pain of finding out that everyone has moved on without us – personally, professionally, kids, life – and wondering if we’ll run out of things in common with the people we love.
It’s the fear that the warm and fuzzy feeling I get when I think about home will one day stop, and suddenly I’ll find that in becoming nomadic, we have cut ourselves adrift.
But most of all, it’s a projection of what would happen if we had to give up this lifestyle. Because every single time I return to the UK, it’s a matter of days before it feels like I’ve never been away at all.
Will it really be that easy to forget the Mexican grandparents, the whale sharks, the street food and the millions of tiny experiences that have, inch by inch, led me towards far bigger experiences than I would have thought possible?
I’m so excited to be home for Christmas and to wrap myself up in festive cheer and snuggly clothes – to see my favourite people, give them big squeezes and tell them I love them.
But I’m also scared that I lose a little piece of my travels every time I go back. So I’ll look at my photos, read my diaries and force myself to remember every detail of every day. And maybe then The Fear will go, and I’ll just be able to get on with enjoying being home.