“Welcome home”, he said as he folded our navy blue passports and handed them back to us. The beginning of July saw us on a red-eye flight back to the US to spend some much needed vacation time with family and reconnecting with friends. We were so fortunate to spend a few weeks at my Grandparent’s summer home in Minnesota. We spent days going straight from pj’s to swimsuits and then back to pajamas again. We ate sweet corn and had dessert every night and met and snuggled our newest niece. We didn’t check our email and we watched my grandparents marvel at the life and chaos and energy that the 4 great-grandchildren bring.
After a weekend in the Twin Cities and our time at the cabin, Chris headed back to Quito to return to work and real life while the kids and I moved on to Omaha, the city where I grew up. We connected with friends and a supporting church and relished in the light of lingering summer evenings. We grabbed up all the cuddles with Grandma that we could and met Grandpa’s new puppy and spent afternoons jumping off diving boards.
After our flights were delayed more times than the kids and I wanted to count, our plane touched down in Quito once more. We handed over those same navy blue passports to the immigration official at 2am. After leafing through and finding our visas, he handed them back and said, “Bienvenido a casa” – welcome home.
And that about sums it up. Two homecomings for our family thousands of miles apart. A sense of place and belonging in two places that often feel worlds away from one another – and all of the joy and conflicted feelings and anger and loneliness and growth and fullness that comes with belonging to more than one place.
I have watched my kids struggle with this reality, their reality, in the days since we have come home. And I have struggled with it as well. Grateful for our own beds and rhythms that we know well and friends here and fulfilling work, all the while yearning for grandparents within walking distance and access to cottage cheese 24/7. Words and phrases that come more easily in Spanish and frustration when we can’t express themselves fully in this new tongue. All of the little things and all of the big things that make belonging to this place for this season both so life giving and difficult all at the same time. And in the midst of it all we are all trying our best to practice giving thanks for it all and asking for extra doses of grace and patience as we all live into our “welcome home”.