Recently I had 2 different conversations that I’ve been thinking about for the last several days. The first one was about my use of the word home. I explained I was going home for the Christmas holidays. A friend said, “Interesting you call that home.” Well, I guess so if home is a location. To me home is where I feel comfortable, loved and safe. Home for me is with people I care about. Whether I’m in the USA with my blood family or in Boquete, Republic of Panama, with my friends that have become the family I chose, I feel at home.
In the next conversation I was asked when I was planning to move back to the USA. Well, I have no idea. I do know at some point we will go back to live near family. I’m just not sure when. The reasons we moved away haven’t changed. We couldn’t afford to live there without continuing to work constantly and hope nothing broke, which it always does.
We couldn’t afford medical care or medicine. We held our breath every time a new sound started happening in our 12 year old car. There was never enough money for anything more than basic survival. There was never enough time to actually spend time with family because all of us were constantly working. If I moved back today, I would be a complete burden to my family until I could get on my feet financially. I would need to find a job, which would be a challenge after being out of the work force for this long. It would be even harder due to my age, and the wage I’m generally given means I need at least 2 jobs. Then I would purchase a car that would always need work to keep it running.
During my last years in Georgia I worked a lot. I had my full time regular job and took on extra side jobs constantly. With my very erratic schedule there was barely enough time to keep daily life going at home, and my marriage suffered greatly. My family there was also working a lot, so we didn’t see each other very much. We texted and called more than not. That’s what we do here with family. However, when I am there for my 15 days, I will have time and they will make time to ensure we are all together as much as possible. When it’s rare to be together it means the time we spend together is very special and precious.
There’s always hope that things will change and get better. However, shortly before I left Georgia, I actually lost hope anything was going to get better. I was convinced it all was only going to get worse. Hopelessness takes a huge toll on mental and physical health. We are healthier and generally happier here than we were there in a long time. I do miss my family very much and some days I cry because it hurts to not be with them. Even though that part of living abroad is hard we still live a better quality of life here than there.
So home is where the heart is for me. Today that’s Boquete. In a little over a week it’ll be Georgia. We never know where our hearts will take us after that, or when we’ll arrive there. But where ever and whenever our next home is, I now have hope things will get better for all of us.