Five days back and no regrets. No sadness. No temporary bouts of depression.
Just something that must be contentment, with a slight chance of happiness.
Because to answer my previously posed questions, I felt three weeks ago like I was going home. Then I felt like I was home. Then like I was going home. And now, like I'm home.
When I first referred to our return to Budapest as "going home" Joel did a double-take. I'm sure he had no idea what I was talking about. I couldn't possibly mean Budapest.
But I did, and I do.
I loved our time in the States. Family and friends were like a breath of fresh air. The grocery stores were bigger and more packed with every imaginable food and non-food item than I even remembered. Sales people were friendly and helpful and, most importantly, spoke English.
I'm pretty sure I ate almost two gallons of ice cream and cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And I can say in hindsight, the few extra pounds were definitely worth it (and it's not coming off quickly with all the Reese's peanut butter trees I stashed in our bags).
For three weeks we lived with our children's four favorite babysitters. Joel and I could come and go as we pleased. No need to book weeks beforehand.
But in light of all that, and though there were tears in my eyes as we said good-bye, I was ready to come home.
I was anxious to be here. Both nervous and excited to function as a family of four again, out on our own. To face the challenges of daily life with a little more courage, and a little more ease.
So when we flew by our house and eased onto the runway I found myself surprisingly calm. Such a stark contrast to our arrival five months ago, when we stepped terrified into the small airport, feeling lost and alone and utterly helpless.
And though the children screamed mercilessly from the time the plane landed and though the stewardesses were forced to carry them off in tears while we toted a ridiculous amount of luggage, it all felt strangely comforting and familiar. I was used to the way they so easily took charge of my children. I understood they would force on their coats, though at that point a blizzard could have blown through and I wouldn't have taken the time. And five months ago it may have, but this time it didn't bother me.
We knew our way to the elevator and quickly found our familiar bus driver, who happily greeted our just-barely composed children.
The city sparkled in the sun and we saw it for the first time as our home and not a tourist destination. The familiar roads and buildings, the places we've been and the ones we want to go, and finally our village, the narrow streets leading to our house, waiting just as we left it.
Yet in that strange way things morph with time, it was all a little different. Our village seemed just slightly more cluttered and disorganized. Our house bigger and a little more empty. And, as Finny so delicately put it, "Our TB's not big enough!"
But in a way it's a fitting summary of our time home. Being here changed my view of being there, and being there changed my view of being here. It made it possible for both worlds to coexist, for the old memories and the new to stand side by side, neither forgotten in light of the other.
Now I would like to maintain the right to misery from time to time. I mean, really, it's only been five days. Just hoping it's misery with a little perspective... and a lot of happiness to cushion it.