Truth and lies (or myth-busting home visits)

There’s plenty of talk about what it’s like to be an expat on home leave. Well, here I am coming to the end of my UK summer hols, so I’m now qualified to comment on all the quotes that get bandied about on what to expect when you go back home for a visit:

‘There’s not enough time’: True, there is absolutely not enough time.

‘Nothing changes when you go home’: Poppycock. Any old chat with the person pouring the coffee will reveal that everything changes, for both good and bad. Open your ears.

‘Next year I’m hiring a farmhouse in Suffolk and everyone can visit us’: What, everyone? Will you have enough bedding? Will there be enough wine? No, that won’t work for us, or for any of my family and friends apart from those who happen to actually live in or near Suffolk.

• ‘No one wants to know what you’ve been up to’: Partly true, partly false, but it depends on who you’re seeing, how much time you have and what the kids are digging up while you’re trying to chat. I have found most people are keen to hear about work and school, not the swimming pools, and I think that’s a nice reflection of the kind of life I had before we left and the kind of people my friends are. So that’s alright.

‘You can’t see everyone’: Very true. Apologies to Parrot, Michaela, Mr Laing (for the second year running), Louise, Pam, ohgodeveryone – and the Cornish lot too #sadandguiltyface

• ‘Haven’t you grown?!’: Yes, if directed towards my stomach, and definitely yes for the children, yes indeed, they have all grown so much since last year, and now I know why old ladies say that a lot. Amazing and a little bit scary.

• ‘I hate living out of a suitcase’: So do I, and that’s why I blow most of our home leave allowance on a rental apartment. Here we can recuperate, chill, allow our pants to spill out of that suitcase, and drink cups of restful tea in anticipation of doing it all over again the next day. An essential booking.

‘We spend our lives on trains’: Same here, but I quite like it. Yep, it’s exhausting and can be costly, but what a great way to pack in precious glimpses of my home country.

‘It’s hard to work out where home is’: Not such a big deal last year, very much so this year. I’ve got lost in London a couple of times this past month, which is bonkers, yet I feel completely at ease walking around my old neighbourhood. I find I keep referring to Singapore as ‘home’, yet the homesickness I feel for London is very strong this year. I can only see the lines becoming more blurred as time goes on.

• ‘Coming home is a great reality check on how lucky you are’: You betcha, and just to prove how grateful I am I’ll be in that pool before my cases are out of the [fast, plentiful and inexpensive] cab. And to the Sing friends I’ve made, I have missed you (and you, and you).

‘Leaving gets harder every time’: Immeasurably so. No-brainer. Sadface #heartemoticon #kiss

• ‘You need another holiday when you get back’: Vietnam? Check.

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