Just as I was boarding my last flight, the above message came through. I was struck by the “‘I’m back feeling” comment. I both got it, and also wondered what that feeling was going to be like. What was it that would cause me to have that feeling? Would it be an ‘it‘ or just a feeling? Would it happen straight away, or take some time?

I’d left some things unfinished in the UK. Some through my own negligence, some through no fault of my own. Some, because I quickly went from being in limbo and uncertain of my return, to departure date fixed and sitting on a plane.

However, I was definitely ready to return. I already had my 1st night back dinner decided, knew which phone packet I was getting as soon as I got off the plane, had 2 meet-ups in the diary for later that week, and so on. Although these could be seen as pragmatic practicalities, they could also be seen as an outward expression of my inner readiness. Particularly my choice of dinner. Nasi goreng from Uncle Chris aka Pak Haji (because he has completed the Hajj to Mecca).

As I heard Yotam Ottolenghi say recently,

there is always a context to cooking. – And by extension food*

Nasi goreng from Uncle Chris says home to me here. It is one of my comfort foods. It is local to my neighbourhood. It is also delicious. As the time of my departure from the UK grew closer, it was one of the things I was looking forward to having/doing again.

While wheezing towards home, I sent my “I’m back safe” messages, and then began to enjoy my 1st look at the city after nearly 5 months. I was smiling, and taking shots of the familiar sights: motorbikes (and traffic) as far as the eye could see, road sellers risking life and limb on the flyover to sell peanuts etc., and then, I did a spontaneous, seat belted jumping up and down dance. I can’t say for sure what triggered it, but I know for certain it was an “I’m back!” dance.

Something -literal, physical, or emotional- connected with me, and my body organically expressed my response. The things that connect and root us to a place, person, role etc. can be varied, and can also be hard to verbally describe. But that “I’m back!” or I’m in the right place/doing the right thing feeling, seems to be able to make itself clearly known.

It is a feeling (sense or certainty if you prefer), that while it should not be our guide for everything, should not be permanently absent. The memory of that spontaneous “I’m back!” dance in the taxi, helped me in my 1st few weeks. When the glow of nasi goreng was dulled by challenges with the house, unexpected outgoings, that noisy bird!.. Just to name a few.

So what about you? Do you have that I’m back! feeling? If not, maybe it’s worth remembering when you last did. Also worth identifying what your “I’m back!” markers are. – Nasi goreng courtesy of Uncle Chris is just one of mine 🙂

*my addition.