It's funny how time and distance change you..the road you take don't always lead you home

I moved for the first time when I was nine days old. Since then, my life has been one of constant motion. By the time I graduated from high school, I had been to ten different schools, and spent most of my formative years outside the contiguous United States, living in Japan and Hawaii. When I got to college in Tuscaloosa and the prospect of staying put for four years became a reality, I got restless again, and now here I am, sitting in my room in Cairo, Egypt, typing this. Which all leads me to December 22-- the day I fly "home" to America. I will be visiting friends and family in the states for almost five weeks before I come back to Cairo in January 28.
I've been progressively getting more anxious about returning to the States, mostly because I've come to the realization that it isn't "home" anymore. It's the place I used to call home; the world I left behind in search of something new. I'm excited to see my mom and dad and spend some much-needed time spoiling my precious nephew, but beyond that, I'm absolutely terrified. Terrified I won't have any fun plans for New Years. Terrified that all of my friends won't like me anymore or appreciate the changes I've made in my life. Terrified I'll come to the inevitable conclusion that I don't belong there anymore.
After all, the world didn't stop turning when I left Alabama. My friends' lives didnt halt, frozen in the moment I left them. They've all moved on, created lives that no longer include me. And while I hope that during the time I'm visiting Tuscaloosa, they'll be able to fit me back into their lives, I know the reality of visiting will be painful, albeit necessary. The two people I miss all day, every day, my best friends Murphy and Kenny, are preoccupied with getting ready to graduate, applying to grad school,and figuring out how to get out to Pasadena for the National Championship. None of these things include me. While I left my whole life behind when I came here, only a small part of their lives left. Sometimes I get my feelings hurt when they arent enthusiastic enough about Skyping with me or making plans for the time I'm back, but the truth is: their lives can't stop just because I decided to come back to the States to visit. I made the choice to leave, and I will have to accept the reality of the repercussions from that choice. Don't get me wrong; it was absolutely the right choice for me. But that doesn't make the realization of what I lost any less brutal. It's a very humbling thing to realize that the world doesn't revolve around me, like I was so convinced it did as a teenager, and that my best friends don't spend every waking moment waiting for my return. But that's life.
In the novella I just finished reading [and will soon be posting an entry about], Seasons of Migration to the North, the antagonist, Mustafa Saeed, a prodigy from the Sudan, leaves his homeland to get an education in Europe. One of the defining lines in the book is spoken by his lawyer at his trial for the murder of his wife "Mustafa a noble person whose mind was able to absorb Western civilization but it broke his heart." The reader draws the conclusion that the "infection" or spark on insanity which caused him to kill his wife came from the constant state of limbo Saeed was is- belonging to neither the North [Europe] or the South [the Sudan] anymore; a man without roots.
Sometimes I'm afraid this is the destiny I'm slowly moving towards. Not the killing people part, to be sure, but the slow decay of one's heart that happens when you do not really belong here nor there. America is no longer home, but I will never completely fit in in the Middle East. What space between, then, is left for me? Growing up an Army child, we had a picture that hung on the wall which said "Home is where the heart is". But where is my heart? Half of it is in Alabama, with Murphy and Kenny and the rest of my friends and family, but half of it is here, in Africa, the place which has been beckoning me, incessantly pulling me toward it, absorbing me into itself, for over two years. The bittersweet truth is that I am a "third-culture kid", with the uncanny ability to fit in everywhere, but nowhere at the same time.
So where do I belong? Where is home? The East or the West? When will I know?

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