is the most amazing holiday ever established! This year, it was the first time in my life that I had ever celebrated it and I am absolutely in love. Think about it- it’s about the three Fs in life- friends, family and food. Honestly, what more could you want from a holiday? I even had the honor to celebrate Thanksgiving twice in two days- first with my adopted host-mom and her daughter in Santa Clara and the next day with my roommate and her amazing family in Oakland.
Then, something unexpected happened. In between cheering for a football team that I had never heard of and be swept away by the mouthwatering aromas filling the house, people were asked to name one thing they were thankful for this year. Imagine a table with 25 people, cousins and nieces and grandparents and moms and dads, all smiling cheerfully, each one of them emphasizing how thankful they were for being with their wonderful family during this special holiday. Then it was my turn. What was I thankful for this year? So many things popped into my mind instantaneously: Having made it to SF despite all obstacles. Having found a great group of friends really easily. Living with awesome, warm-hearted people. Having an amazing boyfriend who makes me incredibly happy. Getting good grades in my classes. Waking up to sunshine and 68°F at the beginning of December. Having the chance to live in a city as beautiful, magnificent and breathtaking as San Francisco. Being able to jog down to the Pacific Ocean. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone and, along the way, realizing that I am both capable of much more than I give myself credit for but also really loved. And, of course, being in CALIFORNIA for heaven’s sake, I mean..how many people dream of living in this state for a while at least once in their lives? And that’s what I ended up saying: “I am so thankful for being able to live my dream!”
But while I was sitting at the table, thinking about how fortunate I was, it finally happened: I got incredibly homesick for the first time since I had come here. Which was really the most awkward time to do so because, you know, we were having this jolly get-together and I was in a room full of strangers. I hastily blinked my tears away and indulged in the turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce and sweet potato pie and tried to move on. But, although I could push it away that day, it still came back. This nagging feeling that something big is always going to be missing, no matter how happy the States would make me: My family. My crazy emotional mom who calls me 15 times within five minutes, just to “say Hi”. My dad, who is sending me recipes he always makes during Christmas time- his subtle way of saying he misses me and hopes that I will be having joyous holidays. My 20-year-old brother who is trying so hard to fill my place as the oldest sibling in the house. And, most of all, my 13-year-old baby brother who loves to record us karaoke-ing “Somebody that I used to know”, who comes into my room saying “If you have time, we could go biking but if you’re busy, I’m just gonna sit in your room and read” and who was trying really hard not to cry at the airport. My cousin, who is basically like a sister for me, with whom I can crack up about the most random things for hours and who amplifies my clumsiness to a point where lives are actually endangered. My grandparents, who figure out how to call me over Skype and spend ten minutes celebrating their triumph. My friends.
It’s ironic, really, how you can spend so much time desperately trying to get away from a place because it just seems too small for all the dreams you have in your head. So, here I am, in a new country, with so many amazing things happening in my life, being happy and having that feeling of belonging…but also realizing that it will never be whole. Because, no matter how happy a place makes you, it can never be perfect, unless it has the ones you love in it, all of them, the new ones and the ones you have loved a life time. I know that, no matter where I am going to live in the future, the grass will always seem greener at the other side of the pond. I have gotten to a point where I feel at home in several different places in the world and the people that matter to me will always be equally far spread out. And, most of the time, it’s enough to know that they are there, no matter how far away. Most of the time, I find it exciting not to know whether I’ll go back to Europe in a few months or in two years or in five, it makes me feel adventurous and tough and different. But just every once in a while, it would be good to know exactly when I’d see them all again. In person. To give them a huge hug and tell them how thankful I am for them.