When I left Costa Rica, I left a house full of people who are nice and fun, but who didn’t see me grow up. I left a loud city, tiny stores and restaurants, cramped streets and a general feeling of claustrophobia. I left beautiful, unnaturally green mountains and trees and faces that always turn to stare.
I left a place where I had learned to organize my heart around my longing for home. Well first, I learned to recognize my sense of home, the broad strokes of a map I couldn’t see all of while I was in it, and then to fold it up to a nice compact size, pack it in my imaginary backpack, and put a strong dose of adventure and living in the moment on top to make sure it didn’t take up more space than it needed to.
I wrote in one of my posts last semester essentially that I felt more like a guest and less like a stranger in Costa Rica, and I feel like that’s a good summary of where I was. I took the experience for what it was, and grew in ways I never imagined, but by the time I went home, I was ready. I was ready to see my family and my friends, to drive across the state of Texas in my own car, singing to my music in a way I haven’t been able to for months, to be in weather cold enough to enjoy the warmth of a fire, to hear the specific way the door to my dorm building closes, to wash my own dishes. And I got everything I dreamed of and more.
What I didn’t expect was the feeling I got when I returned to Costa Rica. In the taxi from the airport, I finally got to show my best friend where I had lived my life for the past half-year. The weird thing was, I was showing her something that felt a lot like home.
I waited for the claustrophobia to set in as we drove into the city, but that didn’t happen. I spent the next month backpacking without staying in one place long enough to be anything other than a tourist. Then I got sick and after staying in San José for a few days in hopes of getting better in time to go to Nicaragua, I realized all I wanted to do was go back to my host family’s house, eat my mamá tica’s soup, and sleep in a room that was not shared with ten other people. And so I did.
When I settled into bed that night, the give in the mattress, the smell of the detergent from my clean sheets, the air from the rotating fan, and something undefinable combined into an unmistakable feeling of home. That’s twice, y’all.
Can you have two homes? Am I going to be forever homesick for a foreign country when I leave in June?