Every single time I talk to my family they ask me the same question: When are you coming home?
Every single time, I give them the same answer: I don’t know.
Meanwhile, this song runs through my head:
I left so many people I love behind in New York, but apart from those people, I don’t miss a thing. Not because there’s nothing in New York worth missing, but because it’s all old news to me, and none of it has proven irreplaceable with something equally interesting but novel.
A recent article in The New York Times, “Think Less, Think Better,” inadvertently spelled it out for me. The author, a neuroscientist, differentiates between exploitative thinking – “leaning on our expectations, trusting the comfort of a predictable environment,” and exploratory thinking – when “we attend to things with a wide scope, curious and desiring to learn.” Driving your commute on auto-pilot is exploitative, for example, while wandering down a hidden alley in Greece is exploratory. He posits that we need a healthy balance between the two, but I guess I’m just in a
mid-life crisis exploratory phase right now, because I see absolutely no need for the tried and true and no-longer-stimulating.
Maybe one day I’ll be ready to return to familiar pleasantries. But considering that in my adult life, I have never lived in a place longer than three years before asking myself, “Where to next?”, it’s doubtful.
There are certain things I appreciate about the United States now more than ever: democratic ideals, diversity, tolerance, coffee. I’ve become way more of an American exceptionalist than I ever was at home during my time abroad. But so far that has not translated in any way into a desire to be back.
(Note to family: Don’t worry. That does not mean I am not coming back. It just means I will not be particularly enthused about it.)