How does one go back?

At the end of Tolkien’s The Return of the King, Frodo says to Gandalf, “There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall not be the same.” Although Frodo speaks especially to the long struggle, the long battle against evil that nearly killed him and that has left him with deep, incurable wounds, and my own journey to Russia and the Moscow Art Theater has left me with none such wounds, I must admit I feel as Frodo does.

There seems to be no real going back. Because the home that I left, and to which I return, is not the same. It has been only one day, but my whole world feels upside down. I don’t even know how to explain to my family or my friends just how different, how different it is being, how different I, how different the … how different. That’s it.

How does one go back? My heart and my body and my soul long for MXAT, long for the training, long for my teachers and their passionate love for their students and the theater to which they have committed their lives. And yet, my heart is delighted to be home. My eyes revel in the beauty of the Colorado plains and the regal mountains that always have enraptured and always will enrapture me. My nose smiles upon the smell of crisp clean Colorado air. My limbs find ease and simplicity in walking the neighborhood streets, free from businesses and cigarette butts, free from people. But I miss those people. Alas, the paradox is hard. I can’t change it. I want to be in two places at once.

I went to get a haircut today and told the nice lady that I had just come back from studying in Moscow. She asked “Moscow, Idaho?” Somewhat stunned I grinned and said in as non-condescending a voice as possible, “No, Moscow, Russia.” She had spent most of her life in Idaho, so I could understand perhaps where she was coming from. But later, after I spent a few minutes describing our program, she said “It’s still a communist country, right?”

Oh dear. I mean, I suppose I can’t expect the woman who cuts my hair to understand the deep spiritual and personal growth that I have undergone in the past 3 months, but the very fact that I can’t explain myself is both wonderful and incredibly frustrating. I cannot fit my experience in a box! hooray! It was so amazing that it fits no real limits! I cannot fit my experience in a box. Well shoot. How do I collect myself enough to give some kind of idea of what MXAT is like? What Russia is like? I was just like them, ignorant and full of misconceptions. So how can I make sure not to get sad when people don’t get it? I am learning. I am learning how to come back. How not to say goodbye, and yet how to say hello to the world that I find myself in at the moment. Because I can only live wherever I am.

How does one go back? Step by step I suppose. Just being here is already a new journey with its own difficulties.

“It started out as a feeling, which then grew into a hope … which then turned into a quiet thought, which then turned into a quiet word … and then that word grew louder and louder, until it was a battle cry … I’ll come back, when you call me. No need to say goodbye … Just because everything’s changing, doesn’t mean it’s never been this way before. All you can do is try to know who your friends are as you head off to the war. Pick a star on the dark horizon and follow the light – You’ll come back, when it’s over, no need to say goodbye. You’ll come back when it’ s over, no need to say goodbye ……… Now we’re back to the beginning, it’s just a feeling and no one knows yet. But just because they can’t feel it too doesn’t mean that you have to forget. Let your memories grow stronger and stronger, until they’re before your eyes. You’ll come back, when they call you. No need to say goodbye. You’ll come back, when they call you, no need to say goodbye.” (The Call – Regina Spektor)

Going home means going back to one home. But I am learning more and more each day that this world is not my home. Or rather, there are many places that I can call home, and that each of them only reflects the real home that my heart longs for. Narnia, heaven, life with God in eternity with all of the most beautiful parts of life here on earth … I want to go home. But while I journey there, I am going to allow myself to learn to be where I am. For love is born in waiting.