Returning to America after the summer holidays in the homeland is always an emotionally charged and complex experience.
First of all, it marks the end of an essentially carefree, pleasant stay in a place where nature has been blessed by unique beauty. We know that our airplane will literally “land” on a landscape full of professional obligations, outstanding bills, family obligations and so many others things that make up everyday life in the place we call home for the rest of the year. It’s the “end of vacation blues” many will tell us, while others will say it is a heavy heart and nostalgia.
But the experience of returning home is a much more complex feeling than that of landing in everyday life after a period of well being. Because Greece offers us expatriate children much more than simple tourism. In this beautiful land are the cities, villages, islands, neighborhoods where many lived during the first years of their lives. The country with its songs, its dances, the light, the seas, the taverns and many other wondrous things, fills us immediately, it literally overwhelms us all, regardless of age and place of birth.
It is incredible how in a few days, the childhood memories and all those things that young people were taught in Greek schools abroad, tie everyone to the country, making us feel as though we never left. A few days in the homeland strengthen the bonds immediately and make the return to America even harder and more wistful.
However, leaving Greece this year filled the heart with even more sadness. We left behind a country even more frazzled and overwhelmed with doubt about the future. In analyzing the reasons for the continual and intensified distress of recent years, a leading foreign journalist noted that the Greek people, after years of mismanagement, suffered a year and a half ago another “political accident”, in other words, the election of a populist radical left government which made a bad situation worse. On returning home this year, we left behind a people even more immersed in uncertainty, pessimism, the desire to escape and obsolescence.
And that certainly made our return even more difficult emotionally.
It remains for us to hope that next summer, when we return from Greece once again, we will carry with us only the nostalgia and the inevitable sadness for the end of our vacation, and not this year’s intense concern and uncertainty about the future of the homeland.
“X” is a former foreign affairs senior executive who chooses to remain anonymous.