It’s a bluebird day as I sit on a bench in front of the beach with my friend Janine. She has her sunglasses on and a thin cardigan strewn across her 2nd trimester baby bump. She takes a breather on the bench after our short walk from her apartment in the vegan-friendly, yoga-practicing, juice-drinking neighbourhood of Kitsilano in Vancouver. She’s eyeing all of the baby strollers that pass by, and never have I realised just how many strollers are in the area even though I was a resident there a little over 3 years ago.
She says to me in her slightly Swiss accent, “you’re never whole again”.
We discuss our experiences as expats, having left our home countries to start a life elsewhere. She brushes a strand of her dirty blond hair out of her face as the wind blows it right back, because even though it’s summer in Vancouver it’s still windy and brisk.
She goes on to explain that moving to Vancouver was the best thing that had ever happened to her in her life. But half of her heart is back in Switzerland, and now half of it is in Vancouver. No matter where she is she’ll always feel like she’s left the other half where she has lived.
In that moment I wished that someone had told me about this feeling before I moved abroad; the inevitable nostalgia and bittersweetness that happens when you move away.
I have friends and family in Vancouver, so many experiences and memories in London, and I now have started yet another life in Sydney. Have I unconsciously left breadcrumbs of my heart in all these places? Will I come to terms with the grass being greenest where I water it?
For the last few months I have wondered if I will go home, and by the end of my trip in Vancouver I realised all three places have been home and yet they all don’t feel like home any longer. All I am confident about in this time is that to set up a home is a choice, but a choice I don’t have to be final about just yet.