“But don’t go trying to use the same route twice. Indeed, don’t try to get there at all. It’ll happen when you’re not looking for it. And don’t talk too much about it even among yourselves. And don’t mention it to anyone else unless you find that they’ve had adventures of the same sort themselves. What’s that? How will you know? Oh, you’ll know all right. Off things they say… even their looks… will let the secret out. Keep your eyes open.” (The Professor’s words to the children in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis)
I can only imagine the transition it was for Peter, Susan, Edmond, and Lucy to come back to England from Narnia. They were, after all, kings and queens of a great land and upon their return they were children again. In Narnia, they grew up. In Narnia, they had adventures and met people (and creatures) that people in England would not understand. In England, Narnia was just a story – and to the Pevensie children it was a reality.
Coming back from Poland, I feel as though I have stepped out of a wardrobe and back into a land where time has not stopped, but where I once used to fit I don’t exactly fit anymore. I have changed but the world around me is just as I left it (with some minor changes – my brother is back at college and my friend Becca is now in Michigan). And all of my experiences, adventures, and new friends from Poland are but stories and pictures to the people on this side of the ocean.
This leaves me feeling disoriented. I have woken up the past few mornings unsure of what country I am in and what language is to be spoken (not that it changes what comes out of my mouth much) and I’ve hesitated before going outside with wet hair or walking around the house with bare feet. And when people say “Welcome home,” I hesitate because even though I know in my head that I am “home,” my heart still feels like Wrocław has also become a bit of home. And Langhorne is also a bit of home. And Farmington, Michigan is also a bit of home. I like to say that “home is where I leave my toiletries in the shower,” but Carrie reminded me that my home is in Heaven. My passport may say United States of America, but my citizenship is in HEAVEN. Now this is a huge concept to wrap my mind around.
I’m transitioning. I’m coming back to the States from Europe, and I’m coming back to Connecticut from Pennsylvania, and I’m coming back from college life to… well, whatever’s next. This summer I realized that wherever I am, I am always going to miss someone. Right now, I miss a lot of people. This past month I realized that when I go somewhere and “fall in love” with it, it isn’t so much the place I fall in love with, but the people in that place. Home, for me, is people.
The professor told the children that they shouldn’t talk about their adventures to anyone unless they have experienced similar adventures. This makes sense – there’s something comforting about talking of international travel experiences and reentry with someone who has done it themselves – who understands. This will be so important for me – talking with Carrie has been such a blessing. I am also excited to begin Small Group at my church with Katy and Laura – who have both traveled overseas and have been transitioning from college life to living with parents. I need comrades, because right now I feel a bit alone.