I am starting to gradual acceptance, emotionally, of Princeton as my home. For the entire year, I have been resisting this change as it meant relinquishing that grip Korea had on me, but recently I have started to let go of Korea, at least allow those Korean memories to assume their place in my collective memory, that huge photo album in my head.
Letting go of anything is difficult and I don’t think I am exaggerating in saying that beginning that process with Korea has been very difficult. How can you let go of something that was so important to you, so informed who you are as a person? You don’t really. You just force those memories to compete with the ones you are creating now.
It is amazing how perspective changes when the dust settles.
This is not to say that thoughts of Korea still don’t freeze me in my tracks. I could be working away and stumble across something that vaguely reminds me of Korea, a word, phrase, scent, and I am suddenly drowning in memory, the most vivid daydream I have ever had. Only now, instead of every day, I might have them two or three times a week.
How can you say goodbye to something so important? You don’t, at least not deliberately. Like I said, you make those memories compete with others.
Traveling to Africa was wonderful in itself. Anytime you have an opportunity to see a new place, you should. That is what humans are meant to do. However, my gradual realization in the few days I have been back is that Africa forced me to frame Princeton as my point of return. Before, Princeton was my point of exploration and Korea remained my point of return. Now, this point of return has been replaced. All of these point of returns are networked and they will always feel familiar. I could travel to one or the other and bathe in familiarity, in positive thought. But only the most recent is the point of absolute emotional necessity. It is the place I return to. And now, that is Princeton.
I suppose that is home then.
At the end of the day, though, home is wherever she is. She is everything I want to return to.