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The Corner of My Eye

It happens most often when I think I see Kris out of the corner of my eye.

Of all my friends, I believe Kris is the one most likely to just... show up in Edinburgh one day, or China, or anywhere else I end up, without warning or really even planning. When I see someone who looks like him walking down the street, carrying a large dufflebag over his shoulder, I imagine the conversation we'd have, if it were him.

"Oh, yeah, hi. I meant to call, but I forgot. So, here I am... I was just looking for your apartment, or flat, or whatever they call it. Streets are different here, aren't they?" And I'd laugh, and we'd get on the next bus down to my flat, and there he'd be, standing in my living room, making comments about the rubber ducks on the bookshelf.

See, I believe, truly, that this could happen, and so every time I see him out of the corner of my eye, I get that nasty dash of hope, followed by reality setting in. That I am a million miles away from anyone I've shared the common experiences with for the past five or so years. That the people who get the jokes, who know why certain songs make me tear up, who understand why I collect rubber ducks, aren't here.

Dealing with it varies, and depends. Some days I shrug it off, reminding myself that I'm experiencing things that my friends back home envy, that I'm going to see new and exciting things, that I can see a freaking castle from my window at work. I remember these things and I smile. You gotta concentrate on the good things.

Other times it harder, and sometimes you just need to indulge yourself, I think, in a good "I'm upset and want to cry". I've been known to just curl up on my bed and sob, or call home and sob, or write tearful emails and sob, until I feel better. You can get a lot of waves of sympathy from home, and that helps. "Of course we miss you! How could we not?" There's really nothing wrong with indulging yourself in a bit of self-pity, as long as it doesn't become a constant thing. The advice I got most often in China was "Go out, go eat something!" You'd be amazed how often that helps.

A lot of times, though, dealing with missing home just comes down to remembering why you left. I was miserable. I was unhappy. I don't like to dwell on that, because Edmonton is a great place full of great people, but that doesn't mean I was happy every day there. Or, I can focus on how much I wanted, needed to have these sorts of adventures. I want to see the world, and you can't really do that in Edmonton. Not the way I wanted to, at least. So, I remember what I'll be doing next week, next month, next year, I remember that I got to go to Paris for a weekend, that I'll go to Italy for my birthday in 2006, and that really, it's only miles.

Miles aren't really that hard to surmount, when you put your mind to it.

{Dealing with Culture Shock in China, Fear and Loathing}


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Fantastic post Anna - "it's only miles". So damn true and your mate Kris sounds like a hoot!

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