It’s just over two years since we left Kuala Lumpur to return to The Hague. As I write this Ian and I are 10 days into a trip down memory lane. ‘Mum and Dad’s Victory Lap’ the boys call it and though I am not quite sure what race we might have won, what we have gained is awareness of what feels like a new emotion. I’m going to call it blissnost– the bliss of returning home.
There is something about being back somewhere you have lived that gives you a kind of ownership of the place, permission to be there. I soon noticed what Ian and I do whenever anyone asks us where we’re from…
“We’re from England, but we live in the Netherlands,” we say, perhaps trying to extract ourselves from any Brexit conversation. “But we used to live in Malaysia for three and a half years.” We can’t help ourselves adding this vitally important piece of information. I suppose we want to show we aren’t just your common or garden tourist. We’re different. We deserveto be here. We’ve earned the right to… I’m not quite sure what we’ve earned the right to door bebut the feeling of everything being easy and familiar is exquisite. We know what to do and where to go without Google. We know how to get a taxi or pay in a car park, can greet and thank the locals in their own language and we sure know what to order on a menu. We’ve spent time with old friends and colleagues and done many things we loved to do once more and added some new must-do-agains to our list. And then, last Saturday, as we clapped our hands and tapped our feet from front row seats at a surprising and impromptu Sean Ghazi and Tarakucha concert, I realised I was telling myself repeatedly, “I love my life.” How lucky we are to experience such a rich, multicultural, multidimensional experience. How lucky to have ‘been there and done that’ once and to be given the chance to do it all over again for a while without the interference of having to go to work.
This morning, over breakfast, I found myself chewing over these thoughts, wondering what the magic ingredient might be that means we experience blissnost so profoundly. I realised that it’s not just about the place, but about the people, and not just any people. They have to be people who truly know us and recognise us and with whom we connected at more than a superficial level before.
Am I overthinking this? Is what I so grandly called ‘a new emotion’ simply ‘belonging’, maybe? Anyway, whatever it is, we are loving being back. Loving having the time to sit and listen the birdsong, to taste the tastes, to marvel how many shades of green there are in the rainforest and to bask in the delight of easy conversation with people who know us well. I suppose this is the feeling we have when we return to any ex-posting before things and people have changed too much. Is it the same feeling we get on return to trips to England? I’m not sure, but I don’t think so. It’s close. However, being in England does not produce quite the same frisson that comes with being somewhere that’s not supposedto feel like home.
Bring on the blissnost. I can’t wait to do it again.