Day 23: True Colors

expat blog challege, expat issues, memoirs

Prompt: Respond –  Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” ―Terry Pratchett

Day trip to Miami

My life was pretty colorful before moving abroad. I loved living in Florida. I could pop out to the beach anytime, our weather was gorgeous, and I was surrounded by the dearest friends I could ask for. Once, a grad school friend came to visit me from New York, and she said, “I know you live in Florida because you’ve worn white on the bottom three days in a row.” It’s true, I loved my white denim. Florida agreed with me.

Though I always wanted travel to be part of my life, I probably would have been happy living in Florida for a long time. Had this move to Australia with Partner-in-Crime not come up, I don’t know why we would have left. We had good lives and were happy.

When I arrived in Sydney, I felt terribly sad for a long time. The sky was an insanely blue color, far richer than at home, but I hardly saw it, and it did nothing to brighten my spirit. I felt out of place everywhere I went, like I’d landed on another planet. I couldn’t see much good, only different. Everyone wore black, which made me feel more out of place. My white-on-the-bottom had no place here.

Sometimes I put on an outfit, and P-i-C tells me that it’s great … if we lived in Queensland (the Australian equivalent of Florida). But now, I don’t care. I’ve slowly accepted that it’s fine to be me in whatever colors I please. I do have a few “Sydney outfits,” and I love wearing those, too. I feel like, when I put them on, they say, “today, I’m Sydney-me!”

sydney me
Sydney-me loves to drink wine. Florida-me is a beer drinker.

Sydney-me is not a put-on. She’s new, but I like Sydney-me. She’s an extension of Florida-me and Georgia-me and Brooklyn-me and Montana-me. It’s a little bit of dress up, but still authentic.

Our intention has always been to go back to the States one day. When we do, Sydney-me will go along. She’ll wear black. She’ll say “quite” and will probably slip up and say something annoying like “car park” instead of parking lot. She’ll drink wine, and have an opinion on which Shiraz is the best for the money.
I have a degree of nervousness about going home one day. I know that everything is going to look different. The things that don’t conform to the way I like things here are going to really annoy Sydney-me. I wonder how my friendships will hold up. My friends knew the other me-s, but will they like the addition of Sydney-me to the mix, or will they find her pretentious, uppity, and a boring know-it-all? Will they wish that Sydney-me would just stuff her stupid black leggings in her suitcase and go back to where she came from? I worry about this, but Sydney-me goes where I do from now on, so I live with the consequences and benefits of adding this experience to my life.
It’s not just what my friends will think, but what will all the new colors look like to me? Will they be vibrant and familiar, colors my eyes have been so desperately missing, which look even brighter when seeing them again. Or, will the emerging new shades be shadowy, colors that were always there, yet mostly out of sight, until uncovered by Sydney-me? I suspect both will emerge, though what the balance of vibrant to dark will be, I cannot even guess.
Not all expats ever go home to where they started, but I expect that one day we will. At least, back to the physical place we came from, though it will never be the same to us. On one hand, it’s a scary thought, all these new colors, but the more I examine it, the more I know that whatever the tones, our lives are richer, our marriage stronger, our children’s lives vaster, our memories splashed with a whole pallet of colors we didn’t even know existed before we left home.
I think that this is all the Me-s in one. All manner of color.

2 thoughts on “Day 23: True Colors

  1. Christie

    That’s a beautiful post. I enjoyed your reflections on the different “me’s” that make up who you are. I have to say that when I first moved to Melbourne, I embraced black clothing. I have lots to bring back in my suitcase. But last year I had enough and started buying everything bright that I could find: red, green, cobalt blue … I couldn’t get enough of it. I also appreciated your thoughts on the fears of how people will accept the Sydney-you. I hadn’t thought of it that way exactly, but now I realize that I share that fear.

  2. Samantha H

    I really like how you wrote this post! I think you’re right – as we move & live in new places – we adapt & perhaps take on new traits. I like how you break it down! What a hilarious observation about the Sydney black (I’d like to add especially for workwear.) Ughh. It is sooo depressing to only wear black, black, black. Fine on occasion – but, I feel it draining my freedom and creativity when I am expected to wear such colorless and boring things day after day (I mean presuming I actually had a job)

    I love this line, “Will they wish that Sydney-me would just stuff her stupid black leggings in her suitcase and go back to where she came from?” Hilarious! My guess would be no, they’ll appreciate you for all your many colors. 🙂

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