Sometimes, things stir in my heart for a while, and then one day, I find the words that I need to express myself. I’m not a word wizard like other people I know (check out my sister for a great example), and I don’t feel like words come naturally to me, but every once in a while, it all comes to me in a moment, when I’m waiting in line for coffee or sitting on the train to work.
I’ve been closely monitoring myself for signs of reverse culture shock, and I’d say this last summer was a pretty smooth transition. I spent time with my family, I worked at an exercise studio, and I visited B. Moving back to Atlanta, though, was a different story. Since being back, I’ve been searching for a word to define what I’ve been feeling. Today, I found it.
If you Google “displacement definition”, one of the definitions that Google supplies is “the moving of something from its place or position”. I have felt this: a moving from my place. Remembering back to when I left Atlanta for Colombia, I felt that I had created a home here. I had a “place”: a neighborhood I was familiar with, regularly visited stores and coffee shops, intuitive knowledge about how to get home on public transportation, a cohort of peers that I connected with, and a church community group that at least kind of knew me.
Now, coming back, I live on the other side of town (so public transportation is all backwards). I don’t know where the grocery store is or where to find the gluten free bagels – this one took me three weeks because I have no patience. My cohort graduated because it’s a two year program and I took the second year off. My department moved buildings, so I still get lost finding my way to my adviser’s office even though I’ve already bugged him three times this semester. I get lost on campus like it’s my first month at Georgia State. I can’t even blame this one on a change of buildings. The library didn’t uproot itself and walk down the road. I just forgot where it is in relation to all the other buildings.
I returned to Altanta, so I subconsciously assumed that life would be the same. I’ve studied reverse culture shock, so I consciously know this isn’t the case, but I can’t always convince my subconscious. I spent a year in Colombia. I changed. The places and people I left back in the U.S. also changed. All of this makes for a different experience now. Add to this that I’m already spending a lot of time thinking about next May, when I move to North Carolina and say goodbye to Atlanta which may never be my home again.
In many ways, I feel displaced – that things here have changed in ways I didn’t expect, that it’s weird that Atlanta doesn’t feel like home anymore, and that, really, the next 8 months are going to be a time of preparation for some serious change in my life. I’m not so sure of my “place” anymore, but I don’t feel like it’s here and now where I’m at.
This isn’t all bad though. I’m doing a lot of exciting things this year and next, and the barista at a fantastic coffee shop downtown now remembers my milk preference even though I only go in there once or twice a week.
***This post was written a while ago. I just never got around to posting it.