When America Did Not Feel Like Home

I had to make a quick trip back to The States while the rest of the family stayed here in Cape Town. The result was that I spent 40 of the past 72 hours on planes.

Solo travel was a non event when I was working. I had only myself to worry about and enjoyed the alone time. Back then, traveling with the family was what made me nervous. However, after the four of us have spent eight months on the road and taken more flights than I can count, I felt uneasy about embarking on a journey alone. Sandeep wasn’t there to look after my passport. No one was there to goof off at the Duty Free stores. There was no one to talk with on the flight. There were no laps on which to rest my head. Even worse, there we no heads to rest on my lap. I felt a dull but very obvious pain that I hadn’t experienced in a long time. An hour into my first flight I realized what it was. Loneliness.

I had mixed emotions being back in The States. It was somewhat comforting to hear the Delta air hostess’s drawl as she asked, “Would ya’ll pleease sit daawn til we switch awf the seatbelt sain?” I was happy to see George Washington’s face as I pulled out a tip. Central air-conditioning felt so good. But despite the U.S. immigration officer telling me, “Welcome home,” I knew I couldn’t wait to actually be back home in Cape Town. Upon my return, the crisp air welcomed me back with a glorious slap on the face. The lights of City Bowl looked even more beautiful than I remembered. My heart did back flips when I heard the patter of little feet running towards the front door.

After traveling to foreign countries with my family and then going back America without my family, I realized the adage “home is where the heart is” is so true. My face may be Indian, my passport American and my history confusing, but home could be a tent in the Himalayas or a sprawling condo in Penang. It doesn’t matter as long as my family is there.

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