Last week, it came around again. April 9: the anniversary of the day I left Melbourne, by choice but against my will. Four years now, it’s been. It’s definitely feeling like four years. I’m beginning to forget little details, names of restaurants and coffee shops and streets.
I miss it. A lot.
But sometimes I wonder if it’s really Melbourne I miss, or if it’s something else. Like the person I was there – happier, more carefree. Or if it’s being an expat. Because I really, really loved being an expat.
When I was in Mexico City last month, and last year, I got to relive that expat experience a bit. I was only there for a week or so last year, and for an even shorter time this year, but through my friend Jen (a fellow ex-Melbournian, now repatriated) I got to hang out with her impressively international group of friends. This year, in the span of four days I spent time with Americans, Australians, a Malawian, a Bolivian and some Frenchies, including ‘real French’ and a very endearing French Canadian. And Mexicans, of course – the most cosmopolitan group of Mexicans you could ever hope to meet, who seamlessly transition from English to Spanish and back again. I’ve always been so impressed by that ability – when I see someone switch between languages, sometimes mid-sentence, without missing a beat, I fall a little bit in love with them. Also, I’m so crazy envious.
Part of me feels like I didn’t get the full ex-pat experience, living in a country that speaks my language. That is about as close to Canada as it’s possible to be.
Sitting with Jen’s friends in Mexico City, listening to them switch back and forth between English and Spanish, perfectly happy to understand them only half the time, I realized that I’m not done with being an expat. I love it too much not to do it again – hopefully soon, but this time in a place where English isn’t the first language, or even the second.
There are plans in the works. They start with taking Spanish lessons this summer.
And Melbourne? I’m coming back for you, if only for a visit.