I look for chopsticks at every restaurant. Sometimes I think I hear people speaking Tibetan, but when I turn my head to look at them and listen, I realize that it was only English. Everything is in English–the signs, the radio, the television, the menus, everything.
My jetlag dreams are plagued by images of Tibet, save for one, where I’m at a bar like the one that I just came home from, and a friend looks my way. He reads my face like a subway ad, cuts through the deceptive smile and sees that I’m crawling out of my skin, miserable and terribly torn up inside.
It didn’t even take a week for the honeymoon phase to pass and for me to have an emotional breakdown of sorts. Upon realizing that I may probably never live in this place again–this place I was born and raised in, this place where my entire family resides–I broke down crying so violently that I had to stop the car. It was a little dramatic.
How to begin to explain the four months of my life to family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, readers? No words, films, or photographs could completely convey anyone’s journey. I’m obviously no Hemingway. It’s sincere in the beginning, but when we reach the middle, I see eyes glaze over and I realize our discussion has reached the end.
“You lived where?”
“You should go home and google it.”
“No…I think I’ll text Molli instead.”
A CNN article on homesickness first tells me that I have a disorder, but then assures me that it’s normal, that “‘It’s just your emotions and mind telling you you’re out of your element.'”
Out of my element?