You won’t believe how much changes in a year. The way you do things, the habits you unconsciously develop, what you start to expect from your surroundings.
The very first thing that struck me after arriving back home is how hot this country is. Yes, there is sun (I was never much of a fan), actual colour instead of just grey, but the heat is definitely something I need to slowly get used to again. I had forgotten how uncomfortable it is to go someplace just a 15-minute walk away in the humidity and heat. You walk out relatively cool and comfortable, but you start sweating bullets just one minute into the walk. I hate how the weather makes you feel so sticky and uncomfortable all the time. And being a tropical country, we don’t get the option of a temporary reprieve when a cooler season arrives. One other gripe I have about the hot weather is the reduction of fashion options and accessories – it is too impractical to pair your clothes with a nice scarf or jacket, since you would probably start sweating so much that you would eventually discard them. And the nice trench coat I got at a bargain will be relegated to storage until I go somewhere colder. However, the climate also means that I can finally take all my shorts and skirts out of storage. That’s probably a trade-off I’ll have to live with.
Coming back home also means that I’ll have to start living with people again. While I was technically sharing a place with another girl, I could still avoid seeing people an entire day if I felt like it. Also, we respected each other’s personal space and never really got to the point where we had to report every single movement to each other, nor did we show up in each other’s rooms unannounced.
Living with family is obviously different. I definitely prefer it to living alone, but after such a long period of the latter, I do need some time to completely adjust back to such a living arrangement. I think I’m constantly moving between extremes. I moved from being able to live in isolation to living in a flurry of constant activity and noise. My family is extremely close and we get into each other’s faces without qualms. My aunt lives just below us, so we visit each other whenever we feel like it. It’s fun and I finally feel like I’m back home, but it’s also tiring. I didn’t have to articulate or even think about stuff I want to do when I lived alone, but now I have to deal with an almost constant flurry of activity around me. I also find that I constantly want to be involved, and I feel the urge to interact with my family just because they are there – almost like how a hostess cannot leave her guests to fend for themselves.
This reaction has also completely destroyed my ability to concentrate on work when I am at home. Living (practically) alone means you get a place to yourself, and you get to listen to your own thoughts. Some of my most productive days were spent at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and sun shining in from the window. Now that I’m back in my own room, I probably need to start to develop new working habits that enables me to shut off distractions better when I work at home. Or work in cafes.
Another major thing I’m still getting used to is the insane amount of food there is to be enjoyed. I know I have complained to whoever was willing to listen about the lack of good (and affordable) food establishments in the town I lived in. I’m definitely glad to be back in food heaven, but it’s hard to decide on one option when you have so many alternatives! I keep getting stuck these days when people ask me what I want to eat – I think I got used to not having options in the past year.
This year away has taught me many things. It has also made me realise that no matter how much you think you know a place, looking at it after a period of absence definitely elicits different feelings and emotions about it. It’s definitely good to be back.