Christmas period is well under way and, as a result, I am getting increasingly sentimental and introspective. This is why I would like to share with you my thoughts on living away from my family.
I’ve been living far from my hometown and my family since the beginning of my studies in 2011. I’ve moved thrice during this period: First to Corfu, then to Germany and quite recently to Manchester. Slightly more than 4 years.
During these years I have been returning to Athens at every opportunity: in Christmas/Easter holidays, in the summer, etc. At the same time, I have been lucky enough to have my parents – my brother still resists the idea of abandoning Athens – visit me in Germany as well in Manchester. In addition, we talk on the phone or Skype every day. Judging from the reactions of several of my foreign friends (okay, I’ll go ahead and say it, North European friends), this sounds a bit too often, but it feels perfectly normal. Indeed, if we actually don’t Skype for a couple days in a row, I start to crave it; I’m getting the lone-child-in-IKEA jitters.
Despite the frequent contact I miss them lots.
And these bouts of my missing them come mainly in unpredictable and unsuspecting moments.
About a month ago, for instance, I was at the theater waiting for Blanche McIntyre’s The Oresteia to begin. I was writing with my mum at Whatsapp when a family of four walked in: two middle-aged parents with their two sons who must have been around my age, maybe a couple years older. That was obviously a family night out, the sophisticated, our-children-are-now-adults edition. No screaming, no drawing with ketchup on restaurant tables.
‘This could be us’, I wrote her.
‘This will be us at Christmas’, she wrote back.
And these are the moments I miss the most. The simple ones, the seemingly insignificant ones. Casual nights out or cozy nights in with Chinese takeout. Shopping for groceries. My dad’s music choices on Sunday mornings. My brother making fun of me while I put on makeup (am I the only one here doing silly faces when putting on mascara?). Discussions on what went wrong with our cat’s upbringing; he’s 7kg and going on strong. And the list goes on.
I miss them, but I feel grateful at the same time, because we’re healthy and able to travel in order to be together.
This is not always the case. Several of the friends and acquaintances that I’ve met along the way won’t be going home to their families this Christmas/New Year’s Eve, because the flight is too expensive or too long or maybe both. So my thoughts, love and compassion go out to them, especially to those whose ‘home’ may be going through a period of upheaval, whether on family or on country level. But they also go out to you, the loyal reader or web-flâneur who might be reading this post and be in a similar situation. Even if these holidays find you alone, I hope that you still have contact to your loved ones and do things that fill your heart with warmth and joy!
Lots of love,
PS: I warned you that I was going to get emotional.