Traveling Home or Who Are These Familiar/ Unfamiliar People

Going back to your home country makes you overpoweringly aware how intensely boring people are. One of the major advantages of living overseas is that you can’t understand conversations in cafes. When you get on the plane to go home, you are suddenly surrounded by people talking in a language you understand and you start wishing for a lovely, helpful language barrier. People’s health issues, political thoughts, tips for pet care, profound experiences in high school and memories of great friendships in college percolate around you like wafting swamp gas and not even earphones of the very highest caliber can save you. (Darling, never travel without ways to profoundly shut out other people).

How you long to be seated in the midst of a group of traveling Inuit or Finns, but no. Fellow citizens to the left, fellow citizens to the right, fellow citizens in front, and how they volley and thunder, flashing their opinions, flashing their attitudes and plunging through any attempt to silence them. Shattered and sundered, in vain I retreat behind a book but there is nary an introvert in sight. They all want to chat. And stuck in my airplane seat, I have no recourse but to shut my eyes and snore quietly (“waking up” in time for snacks of course! And the complimentary champagne!)

And speaking of airplanes, how wrenching that change from local airlines (no need to fasten your seat belt, return your seat to an upright position or stow your tray table, no need to sit in your assigned seat and if you would like to jump rope in the aisle during take-off, not a problem!) to so-called major airlines. Sigh. Stewardess who make sure you follow all safety regulations and spoil your fun. No tangoing during the descent. Sigh.

Then it’s passport control (always a little emotional for moi) and the arrivals hall with adorable kiosks with longed-for chocolates and magazines, not to mention throngs tossing rose petals at moi. And taxis. Lovely taxis with charming drivers. Nothing as nice as a good taxi.

And the food! All the delicious food you have been dreaming of for months!

But there is still the problem of fellow-citizens. After so long of living in a bit of a fog, never quite knowing what is going on around you, suddenly every word is crystal clear and precise. You understand everything: that veiled insult, that rolled eye, that nuance of disdain, that look askance. You can no long pretend you don’t know what is said and what is meant. You can’t pretend you are outside or removed from the fray.

And what frays we are having about masks, quite French Revolution out there my darling. I can see why there were so many duels throughout last winter and spring. Even now we have trolls on public transport in which masks are required, pulling it defiantly down to their chin, sitting with belligerent, truculent expressions, daring someone to tell them to pull it up. If only I had my sabre (alas, still at the ironmongers getting sharpened) I would issue challenges right and left.

But still, still, it is home, trolls and all. Home.