Confessions of Living far away from family, and making home away from home


like branches on a tree

grows in different directions

yet our roots remain as one.

Living away from your family –parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, and aunts– is a choice many of us make in hope for a better future or by the will of fate or the circumstances. Whatever the reason to build a nest away from home, the truth is that somewhere it creates a nagging yearning for the family and the place that we leave behind. For some people, the geographical distance from their loved ones is hours drive away, while for some, like me, it is several long tiring hours in the air, measured by oceans, continents, and multiple time zones away.

Haven’t we all heard ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’? But when this distance is thousands of miles away, this fondness changes into a longing that overcasts our everyday life. There are times in my life-festivals, birthdays, weddings, birth, funeral, reunions, and other milestones– when I get homesick. And, thereafter I start making plans to visit the family (like REAL BIG planning goes into it). I have to find at least three weeks of vacation in the calendar. I then look for flights with reasonable price, connections, and travel time. (No kidding, with connections and layovers some flights take 40 hours or more to the destination!). There is added level of planning and the associated stress if my children accompany me. And, by the time I complete all the intricacies that go into making the travel happen, my homesickness is taken over by travel anxiety.

When this long travel is not practical, I simply stay put and wait for the blues to pass. I say to myself, “Toughen up Girl!!” It does help to video call the family, but sometimes it makes the feeling worse as I see the faces but cannot touch or hug. During these times I fantasize about teleporting.

Frequently some or the other incidents triggers nostalgia. And, then I end up sharing the stories of  ‘When I was little….’ with my children, hubby, and friends. If you would ask them, there are some memoirs I’ve repeated multiple times. I dread the day when my kids would start saying, “Not again, Mom!”

I typically start and end my day with a phone call, just to be sure that ‘all is well’ at the far end of the world where part of my heart resides. These comfort calls last less than a minute as both sides have nothing to share but the fundamental joy of hearing each other’s voice. Rare times when I receive a call at odd hours of the night, I wake up in terror of receiving that dreaded call carrying  some unpleasant news.

Plus there is a frustration of not able to always be physically present with the family in times of their need. Most often my availability is restricted to giving advice over the phone.

There is also a bit of disappointment that my kids will not be able to experience the friendships with their cousins like I did, hanging out with them every summer. To compensate for this lost time, I do take the kids to meet the family as often as possible, and it is such a pleasure to see them get along with their cousins like they were never apart. But then time flies and every trip has to end.  Life starts its routine; The wanderlust settles, but the yearning remains.

While residing in my abode, I have developed a special gratitude for the friends that make me feel at home, by their impromptu visits, invitations to celebrate festivals together, and offering help in times of need. These kind of friends are the support system, and they successfully fill the vacuum generated by living distant from the family. I find a familiar comfort meeting other international families too, for deep inside we all understand and share a void of living away from our roots.

Having described my emotional rollercoaster above, I am sometimes consumed by dilemma to continue living overseas or return. Good thing this feeling does not last long.

To sum up, my story is a living example of having feet on both boats; wherein I try to balance the boat that rocks but also keep the other one from drowning. And I essentially try to fill the geographical gap by scheduling visits, and video calls. But like a said, yearning remains! It is always there

So, what is your story? Do you live far or near your family?

Photo credit: The Wandering Angel via / CC BY

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