22 Minutes on a very good day on I-93N from Boston if you get lucky with traffic. During peak periods I could almost double that. When accidents occur I could very well sit on the highway for more than an hour. We do this commute everyday with three kids in a private independent school in Boston. Home is a charming bedroom suburb 25 minutes away. I take exit 24 do the roundabout and along South Border road home. It gets old after a while but I love the neighborhood. Once you enter the rotary it’s a whole different new world. It’s scenic and comforting at the same time. I no longer have to look at miles of sand, and there are trees here, their foliage changes color, they are lush green in the summer and golden and red and purple in the Fall. I fell in love with the quaint historic old homes in my town. They remind me of my girls’ dollhouses, a feature of the New England charm. I loved the tall shiny buildings of my home away from home, and their avant-garde architecture, the swishing of boats docked in the marina at my doorsteps, but here the greenery, stately homes, nature reserves, and produce farms justify the trade-off. After all downtown Boston is only 22 minutes away on a very good day, and the neighboring towns and cities bring variety for choices. No, we’re not talking clean, sterile facilities like the opulent Burj Al Arab or the Madinat, and here it doesn’t come close to the world’s famous Dubai Mall. I could go to Natick or Chestnut Hill for that but it’s different and it’s happiness in a whole different light.
I have missed home tremendously. A plane ride home is only 15 hours away so they say. That’s not the point. I miss home even when we spend two months every summer to visit and pretend we live here just like old times. Well we have not visited since the summer Covid-19 happened. The lockdown seemed endless and traveling with restrictions was a risky mess. When you have a family of five and flight tickets were exorbitantly costly you either risk losing your money or having to spend more when you are trapped due to a fail PCR test. 2021 was our chance to travel again – this time back home. I have waited for this day a long time though I wasn’t expecting it. It was a laborious difficult move. As much as I wanted it I wasn’t prepared. November 2011 was fresh on my mind. It was the day I reluctantly dragged my feet and uprooted myself and my three young children. I left our future in his hands. I trusted him and most of all, I wanted to support his career and ambitions. It was hard to leave the city, our community, the life and routine I knew, our friends – I had grown distant from them. They sensed it too. Similarly the same feeling crept in when we prepared weeks prior to taking the flight home, leaving behind the house and life, so-called home, for almost a decade. I put my heart and soul in that home regardless of how unwillingly it took me. I consoled myself, that this is what I’ve always looked forward to. I never moved on overseas even though it seemed I had and now I am moving backwards to the life and home I had yearned for. It was a strange period in our lives. I probably wanted it but the tables had turned around this time. He did not as much, though it was a stable future, one with opportunities and it felt the right thing to do. The timing wasn’t exactly perfect for the children, it was close enough for the phase change but I believe it happened for a reason. The life they had while living as expatriate children weren’t real. It is probably best that they experience the reality of challenges and transitions. After all, they were too young to understand the move ten years ago. Covid-19 did not make it easy for sure. Everything seemed slow in motion, the logistics, the emotions, the movement, the experience, the resentment. I had to acknowledge them. I am sure they too.
Ever since we landed on U.S. soil, I have been observing and re-learning my new landscape. The United States of America that we left ten years ago and the not so same one that welcomed us back in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic. A decade of opportunities abroad, working, and raising children (who are now a teenager and two college-age kids) in the international school system, defined us as the quintessential third culture American expatriates calling the Middle East our home. Home now is Massachusetts, New England in a beautiful historic bedroom community not far from the city of Boston. Work and school determine where we bought our home, so a 20-30 minute commute is what stopped us in our tracks.