I’m home, and I don’t know

As usual, post-travel depression hits me like 2 tons of bricks. M was more than ready to come home, she was counting down the days and has exclaimed several times since getting here that she’s so happy to be home. But I… I’ve dreaded this moment since taking my first breath of Kathmandu air while stepping off of the airplane and the hugest smile spread across my face. I cannot shake the feeling that there is nothing for me here at home (except my mom and sister, but I mean future-wise), and coming home to my cat having been put to sleep and my grandparents’ house empty and the cold and the election… well… it’s all too much.

I’m struggling with parenting a lot right now. We’ve traveled so much, and M has always enjoyed it and asked to go on more trips and always behaved at her best while traveling. Going to Nepal was completely different… she was unhappy, unsettled, and her behavior was completely ridiculously awful. As a parent I was awful, too. I had a hard time finding our connection, or drudging up compassion for someone who, while so little, was being so insanely difficult all the time. I haven’t been such a shitty parent in a long time, but I had no idea what to do when I had to move her through a security line at an airport, or get her onto an airplane, and she was being destructive and hurting other people or running away from me. How to respectfully parent in these situations? I’m completely lost. It’s like last September when she was having the rages and I just sat there crying completely in over my head.

Part of why I was so irritable is that I just don’t know what to do with life in general. Nepal has a funny way of unearthing me and exposing me to the wind. We were in bad situations all around: not having our own space, being on the move too often, jet lag, culture shock… it’s no wonder she went crazy and I had a hard time dealing with it. But now we’re home and I no longer have even the possibility of happiness for quite some time. I know, I need to change my attitude. But something in me needs to go to Nepal. Needs to speak that language and hear its sounds and see its mountains. When I have to leave I just… my heart is broken, the way it feels broken when a relationship ends. I just cry. I feel nauseous. I wonder what the hell I’m doing here, in this life.

I’m sitting in my house at 4am. We’ve been up most of the night because we haven’t even slightly adjusted to the time change. The house is a mess. The air is frigid. My daughter just asked where the cat is, and I had to tell her she died. Just like grandpa and Gi Gi. The swimming pool people have called to say it wasn’t in their system that we were leaving (I made sure twice before we left). The travel nursing recruiters are trying to talk to me about being submitted for jobs. I have to go back to work Friday and Saturday and I hate work and I hate leaving my daughter. My mother didn’t eat and had a bad fall while I was gone, so I feel I can’t leave her anymore either. My daughter wants to go back to her school and loves being home and now, for the first time ever, I’m afraid that my daughter won’t want to be in Nepal with me. Or that I’ve damaged her, somehow, instead of inspired her.

I’d still get back on a plane tomorrow and go back if I could, because I hate it here. I hate it. Everything is different and empty and I feel so lost here. So pointless. I close my eyes and still see the Himalayas. I still feel their presence in my blood like a calling. Oh god, how am I still back here in this place. Without money I will never get out. I just have to work… more. I have to make money somehow so I can go back for longer. I have to have something to look forward to. It’s the only way to go back so… I guess I just put the pedal to the metal and go where there’s some money to be made.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be unstuck here, in America, in the Midwest. I don’t know how to be a single mom, take care of my own mom, and get out of the financial hole I’m in enough to get out of this country from time to time. But I have to. I’m dreaming of an apartment of our own in Kathmandu, trekking, and a contract once or twice a year in the states. A few summer months in Michigan at my lake cottage. That’s the life I’m working for. Somehow I have to push aside these post-travel blues and get to work. I have to be a good mother, I have to reconnect with the things that make me happy here, and I have to move on. I can do this. Right? I can do this.

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