It’s hard to believe that we’ve been back in the United States for a little over a month now. First, we went on a road trip from Orlando to Chicago to reconnect with family and friends. Then we went to Oregon to see more family. Finally, for the last two weeks Michelle and I had a chance to spend some quality time with our own families, Michelle in Oregon, and me in Hawaii.
Being a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (the official term – RPCV) everyone seems to be asking 3 major things:
1. What was it like? How was your experience? – We’ve talked about the difficulty of this before for any volunteer to sum up their 2-year lives as volunteers and how we’ll probably be reflecting about our experience for months to come.
2. What’s next? – We’ve sort of mentioned things here and there but we are working on a post to better explain what we’ll be up to this coming year. As we said in Jamaica, “soon come.”
3. How has it been to be home? – This is the focus of today’s post: Home.
Home….Not Yet Home
As travelers, I’ve come to understand that “home” is different for everyone, especially for us wanderers. I grew up in Hawaii. That’s home. I felt a deep connection to Portland. That’s also home. Jamaica has a special place in my heart and life. There’s a part of me that calls that home now, too.
Here are my favorite recent questions we’ve been getting that I struggle to answer:
Where are you from?
Umm…where did I grow up? Where did I just come from? What country?
Where are you living now?
Well…right now I’m visiting family in Hawaii, so I guess there??
Ok, then, where will you be living?
Good question. We will be traveling for awhile so…yeah.
How’s home been since you’ve been back?
When I landed in Hawaii 2 weeks ago I thought I would feel as if I returned home. For anyone that has been to Honolulu, once you land, you actually go outside right away as you walk to baggage claim. It’s another small thing I love about returning “home.” The warmth, humidity, and trade winds gently remind you that you’ve arrived. Yet as I walked through the airport, I didn’t feel home. The local people that I grew up with seemed different to me. I started wondering: will people know I was born and raised here? Will they see me as a tourist? I didn’t feel that I fit in.
What’s crazy is how things change and don’t change in two years. Honolulu has more new condos and big buildings. They started building a rail system. Yet Diamond Head, the mountains, and valleys are still there and still beautiful. I love surfing. I love the local Hawaiian food. And most of all, it’s been great to see family and friends. It’s been great to see so many people I haven’t seen in years that have changed and in many ways, haven’t changed at all, too.
But I didn’t go home to the house I grew up in. My family moved while I was away. I thought I would be sad about it but being with my family, I’ve realized wherever they are is where home is. I’ve forgotten about the old house.
And really that’s it. Home is not a place. Home is not a physical structure. Home is a familial structure. Home is a feeling. Home is being surrounded by the people you love that also love you. That’s why I can be home with just Michelle, or in Portland, Hawaii, and even now, Jamaica.
So yeah, it’s been great to be home.
“Where is home again?”
Wherever I’m with my family and friends….I’m home.
Here are some things I’ve been up to since being back in Honolulu (including some random part-time jobs).
Helping setup AV equipment:
Helping setup a wedding:
The latest “Jumping Jedd Photo” – Surfing out by Diamond Head