In my case, I wish I were at home in Spain while I am in England but I miss Manchester when I am in Spain. There is a constant feeling that I do not belong anywhere any more. I am sure that all those who are in the same situation as me will understand what I mean. The habits, the voices, the streets – even your own native language! – are not so familiar any more. You are a stranger in either place.
That is what has been gradually happening to me every time I have travelled back home during the last three years. Things or customs that were normal before stop being normal because you can now compare them with those of your new home. You start to notice the smallest details in your home town, which you had never recognised before, like the funny shape of a house or the beautiful landscapes that surround your village, to which you never paid attention any of the tens of times you travelled by bus to the big city.
The people you know have also changed to your eyes, especially your parents. It is the long periods of time away from them that make you observe them more carefully than ever and realise that they continue growing older, as their body movements and face traits reveal.
What never changes is the way they look at you. When they first see you after a long time, they stare at you for a second as if they were not sure if it is really you, but soon they start to behave as if you had never left, as if you were only coming back from a weekend trip. Their love never changes.
Last Christmas at home, however, I did feel I belonged there. I was warmly welcomed by my little village like a man waiting for his missing dog to come back. I still discovered new things I had not seen before, or I had not looked at, but I embraced them just like a curious person would do. Something in me must be different – now I accept changes as they come and feel strong enough to adapt myself to them.
When the time to come back arrived, it was the first time in a few years that I felt that I was actually leaving home.