American Me

Home: [hohm] homed, hom·ing. Noun: the place or region where something is native or most common.

The longest flight of my life is always the one returning home. Back to Denver, Colorado where I’ve got everything: best friends, family, amazing spicy food, and my life left behind.  I was picked up for the second year in a row by my best friends. Our first destination was Chipotle because it’s the one restaurant I crave for out here in Spain. Then straight to the drinking: whiskey shots and PBR beer.

Airport Pick-up

My few short weeks home were nice but quick. It was good to reconnect with a lot of people, spend time just chilling with my dearest friends and my brother, to be able to drive again, to have good service in a restaurant, to have mom’s home cooking, and to go to lots of concerts.  But it went by too quick.

I thought that each time I left home it would get easier, but in fact, it just gets harder and harder. Spain calls me, but my last moments in Denver are the hardest. It gets more and more difficult saying goodbye to my friends, to Jeana, and especially to my family. I really do miss being at home. Life is simple, it’s easy. There’s no stress, there’s no conforming, there’s no foreign language or foreign culture. It’s just me and the people I know and love.  Sometimes I forget how nice it really is to be home. I know myself well enough that if I were to live there, I’d be dreaming of leaving, which is why I always take off, but I think that if I were to go back for a prolonged period of time, I’d now be ready. I’ve had my incredible Spanish experience. I’ve gotten fluent like I wanted. Basically all of my goals have been met. Home was just…great.

Yet I return to Spain.

I always look forward to getting back to my roots, back to the “me” that I’ve always known. I’ve now come to realize numerous things not only about home-life but about myself.  It might have been a combination of jetlag or whatever, but I was surprised to see how I wasn’t into the same things I’ve been complaining about missing for the past two years living in Spain. I’d always tell Marta and Chloé how much I missed going to punk shows and hanging out with my friends and talking about music and getting tattoos (not that I have any).

But at the shows I did go to, I felt like I was going back in time in a bad way. I felt suddenly sad that I was basically over the entire scene. Over the music. Over the people. Everything was how I loved it: everyone drinking beers, everyone covered in tattoos and piercings, the music loud and angry. Yet, I felt so disconnected. I almost wanted nothing to do with it. That’s awful to say because I was stoked to be there with my friends, but now I feel some sort of a disconnect from who I thought I was. When I talk about the “American me,” maybe that person isn’t the person I left in another country, maybe it’s just a person I’ve left in the past.

However, it was great to be able to see all my friends’ bands play, including Eamonn’s band Anchor Point, and Joe’s band Elway (they’re coming to Europe this October!) I got to catch up with people I’ve missed, spend a few days at the pool with my bestie Britt, go out and get drinks with my friends from college, went gambling in Black Hawk with my mom and Jeana, floated down Golden River with Danny, and I got to spend a few of the last nights of the Blast-o-mat being open (a crust-punk DIY venue that I used to go to a few times a week back in college).

After three weeks of eating my favorite meals, hanging out at home with my family, helping my brother move into his new college house (it’s his last year of college!), and riding bikes and drinking my favorite beers with my friends, I flew out with my family to Delmar, New York (not New York City) to visit the rest of our family. It had been two years since I’d been back to the first place I ever called home. For my brother Dylan, it had been, what, four or five years? For my father, it may have been even longer.

So I had gone home, and then I went even further back to the first place I could call an abode. I was born in Maryland, at two-years old we moved to Florida where my brother was born, then at the age of three, we took off to live in New York. We lived upstairs in my grandparents’ house. We were there until I was six when we decided to pick up and move to where my father is from and where my parents had met, Colorado.

New York is where I had my first memories. I remember the house, the greenery of the town, the people, my friends, and more importantly my family. Now, everything is the same except much smaller. My brother said, “Remember when this pool was olympic-sized?” referring to the in-ground swimming pool in my grandparents backyard that used to seem like an entire ocean to us as children that now seemed no bigger than a puddle. Being back in the first place I called home was wonderful. It was a week that I got to spend with my entire family: my grandparents, my three uncles, my three cousins, my parents, and my brother. We didn’t too much other than spend hours at the local American Legion

Some of the family at the American Legion

military bar drinking cheap jack and cokes, playing “pickles,” and then returning back to my uncle John’s place where we’d continue drinking. During the days, we spent them lying by the pool or exploring old mountainous hiking trails.

I remember being blown away by how green the entire place was. Everything was forested and green. Green everywhere. Colorado is dry, brown, plain. When I went back to Delmar, I had a moment where I suddenly felt like I was back inside my six-year old body moving to Denver. I could feel Colorado’s dry heat and its open plains that I hated so much. I hated Colorado. I really did. I wore my “I <3 NY” t-shirt every chance I got. Every summer after we moved to Colorado, we’d go back to New York and for me, it was better than Christmas to go back to where I loved, where I felt I belonged. I felt that way again being there, surrounded by family and the beautiful town that I first remember, the very same that my mother and her three brothers all grew up in. My grandparents live in the same home, a place where my mother grew up, and surprisingly, me too.

So now that I’ve returned to Spain, I now have no idea where I can call home. I feel a strange antagonizing nostalgia I never expected to feel for Delmar. But I also miss home back in Denver where I have my entire life. In Denver, I have my friends. In New York, I have my family.

But at the same time, while I was back at both my homes, I was dreaming of Spain. Spain has changed me and I wonder if after living life in a way I never could have imagined, the simple things that made me so content as a teenager like going to punk shows now don’t have the same thrill as they once did. Now I get my kicks from speaking in other languages, meeting people from all over the world, and visiting foreign places. Maybe that’s why Delmar was so impacting to me this year, because it was like visiting a far distant place, a place I’d always had in my memories.  It was as if my memories of the New York I know seemed more like fantastic dreams and not a reality. It’s like young girls dreaming of wandering the enchanting streets of Paris; me, I was dreaming of the backyard swimming pool at grandma and grandpa’s. And now that I’ve returned to it, it felt like I was gazing upon the Eiffel Tower for the first time after dreaming about it for a life time.

Now I’m in a new home, Barcelona. It’s a city I’ve visited several times, but it’s a place I don’t know. It’s a place that I have no connection to. I have no friends. I know no one. But that’s part of the excitement. Yet at the same time, it makes me long for home, for either Denver or New York, it makes me miss my friends and my family even more because here, it’s not as safe as Madrid where I know the city and where I’ve always had friends. Now I’m jumping into a pit with no bottom in sight. It’s exciting to be able to create a completely new life for myself out here, but at the same time, I just wish I was at home hanging out with my brother, sitting poolside trying to get tan with Britt, or back at the bar in my uncle’s house in New York.

But here I am and here I stay for the next year. At least things are quickly coming together. I’ve already gotten an internship with BarcelonaSAE, a study abroad company which I couldn’t be more excited about. I also have some private English classes lined up.  My roommates here are all wonderful and I can’t wait to get to know them better. So my world is slowly changing once again. To everyone back home, or back in my other home, I’ll miss you, and until next time. For those in my new home, let’s party!

Write more later,

Graham

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5 thoughts on “American Me

  1. Graham…Hope you don’t mind your mom sent me this. I’m so moved that instead of lurking, I’m just gonna step out into the light! :) You made me cry, sweetie, and I couldn’t be prouder of you. I was 12 the first time I went to your grandparents’ house so in a way, your mom, your uncles and your grandparents are still home to me too. Keep on sharing that beautiful heart of yours and when you’re ready, you’ll know exactly where you belong. Lots of love to you, Graham – Diane

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    1. Hi Diane! Thanks for the kind words! I’m glad my mom sent you my blog, no need to feel like you’re lurking it! It’s on the internet for everyone to see and enjoy. Anyway, that’s right, you probably know that house even better than I do. It’s crazy how everything starts and comes from almost the same place. Thanks again for commenting, keep them coming :) Graham

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  2. I felt a lot of those same things when I returned home from my year in Madrid. Living abroad changes you, as does not living abroad– just in different ways, I guess. All of it is a mixed bag. When I lived abroad, I loved the excitement of it, but I also felt lonely at times. Then when you come home, it feels lonely too because now that feels foreign! I think It’s all worth it though. I’m in Denver, btw. It is pretty awesome here too.

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    1. Yeah I totally know how that is, feeling lonely and foreign everywhere you go. At the same time it’s really cool to know that you’ve “gotten out” and experienced new stuff, but then at the same time, you’re not quite sure where to place yourself. Either way, thanks for the comment! I’m glad to hear you like Denver. What’re you doing there? Say hi to everyone for me haha

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