It feels weird, to say the least, to be back on American soil. Right when I got off the plane in JFK airport differences were very apparent. Gone are the Irish accents I had become so accustom to, replaced now with the “normal” American accent. Gone are the rolling hills of the Irish countryside, replaced with big buildings and urbanization. Gone is the helpful hand of strangers on the streets, replaced now with hustle and bustle from one place to the next.
The week back in general has been a week full of changes, going along with the changes I have encountered while abroad. Just as I moved to traveling and exploration, life here has moved on as well. I am not caught up with all of the things that have happened to my family and friends in the past months when I was not with them. This in itself has been hard to get up-to-date with and leaves us on different plains of thought and conversation. As much as I would like to talk about my experiences while abroad I know that it’s not really something a lot of friends and family can relate to and converse about. They have had other pressing matters they’ve run into during their time in the states and it’s harder for them to make good conversation for too long about something that they don’t have a lot of personal information about.
The different journey that I have gone on puts me in a liminal threshold of feelings. Trying to step back into the “new” culture that is America has been difficult since I have been away for such a long time. It’s been a struggle trying to integrate the person that I became in Ireland within the new/old culture of America. I think that through the support of my family and friends this can be done much easier and is a reason why the Reincorporation Letter with my family created a good starting point for that.
I decided to talk to my parents about my reincorporation on Christmas Day. On this day we entirely devote ourselves to the family and is the only time where I can have everybody sitting down in one place. Since we spend a lot of time together during this part of the year, I was able to have as much time as needed to lay everything I had to say on the table and be open about my reincorporation. Although I was initially nervous about the forwardness of the letter and the process, I pushed through and was very happy about the response from my family.
At the start of the talk while we were eating Christmas dinner, the topic came up about my time in Ireland and I used that to segue into my reincorporation. I explained the topic and how there will be difficulties in the coming weeks as I get used to incorporating the changes I underwent in Ireland to my old life in America. I then showed them a picture on my phone of a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.
As corny and weird as it is, Ireland was my cocoon. I was able to mature and develop in the new environment, becoming a better me. To keep this development going though, my reincorporation has to be smooth, if it is not then the growth that I’ve undergone could lose it’s full potential. I explained how with their help a smooth transition could be made possible. When the topic of Ireland comes about in the future, I told them it would be beneficial for us to less talk about the travel of my trip and more talk about how my perception was changed during it. This would also enlarge the conversation, allowing them to contribute about how they’ve experienced those same changes in other areas of their lives. This change in conversation will allow me remember my changes better and carry my experiences abroad past the airport terminal and into my life in America. After I told about my reincorporation my brother and parents expressed their openness to helping in the process. They understood that it could be difficult and as always were very supportive.
Although I feel stuck between two very different worlds with this change of dialogue between those I’m close to I can further the developments I have made while abroad and not revert back to my old, less developed, self. As Craig Storti (1990) says “No one goes home, rather we return to our native country and, in due course, we create a new home.” With the help of friends and family I feel that I can create this new home and further the maturation I have made while abroad, bettering myself in this “new” America.