Leaving Manchester to come home was a really big deal for me, evident in my dreams and my occasional suspicions that home never really existed in the first place because it felt too detached and far away. Which was why despite the trepidation of facing a 14-hour long flight journey, going home was perhaps the thing I looked forward to the most for the past few months. I looked forward to the familiarity and comfort of being with my family and friends, a fixed and unwavering denominator I’d planted full credence in, and I also looked forward to how much home had changed in the past nine months I’d been away, as well as how much I had changed relative to all the constants and changes of something as steadfast as home.
Surprisingly, stepping on Malaysian soil wasn’t as climactic as I’d thought. The happiness and relief that was ignited upon seeing my parents was pure and unadulterated, but home, as a concept, as an environment, as a jigsaw puzzle missing a piece that was myself, was so easy to settle in comfortably without any qualms, as if I’d never left in the first place. I noticed the traces of my absence in the form of different furniture arrangements, my mum taking up a new hobby, and all the inevitable “How’s UK?”s from nearly every single person I’ve met since I came back, but home is a feeling, and it is especially a feeling that never runs far from what you’ve known all your life. When my friends asked me how I felt to be back at home, apart from the solace that was entailed upon returning home, all I could say was it wasn’t the fanfare and fireworks I’d expected, but the most natural slip back into contentment and routine, so much so that the nine months at Manchester felt more like the dream than home did when I was in Manchester.
This anti-climax doesn’t warrant a slapped-on label of good or bad, it simply just is, and I felt most in my element feeling comfortable, safe and secure in an environment I could place complete trust and faith in without having to constantly assemble heavily guarded walls to protect myself because it’s so difficult for me to affix a sense of trust in anything or anyone. I felt free. I felt like I could breathe more easily. Even on idle days when I felt slightly suffocated by the lack of activity and stimuli around me, it still feels luxurious, to be able to afford such a peace of mind without any repercussions. Safety (especially of the mind when dealing with anxiety) has always been something I primarily seek in any situation, and to be able to have just that, so generously and abundantly, I cannot stress how grateful I am for that.
This summer break has been really eventful, it even feels like these three months have been even more so compared to the past nine months in Manchester. I’ve had my fair share of adventures from travelling to Ho Chi Minh, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, KL and Penang, from meeting with friends from various points of my life and exchanging, collecting stories from all of them, as well as fair shares of utter Chilling and Doing Nothing like lying on a friend’s bed or taking three naps in a day or spending the evening hunting for Pokemon around town. Of course, the time to leave will come, and I will once again be filled with nothing but reluctance and despair to leave, but despite that, I am also trying to prep myself up to leave this Zone of Extreme Comfort, to commence the second year of my university life with courage and determination, with aims and purposes in mind to be a better version of myself, to be less afraid to try new things, meet new people, and most importantly, create new stories.
Home is a constant, an anchor that provides security, but it cannot ever be a deadweight. And that is why I have to remind myself to never get too comfortable. After all, there is still a whole wide world out there that I have yet to experience.