“Home” is not a place.

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The choice of paths we take in life are not clear cut black and white, or right or wrong.  They’re all kinds of blurry and multi-colored.  One path is not the road of disaster and doom, while the other is not all sunshine, light, and happiness.   ALL paths have opposite elements in various amounts and quantities.  Our decisions are based on choosing the path with the greater percentage of happiness based on the things that are the most important to us.

I haven’t been back home since mid-January of this year, and I’ll be honest, I have days where I get quite a bit homesick.  I’ve never been away for this long of a period, nor have I ever been away for an entire summer before.  Yes, I’ve been away from home for PART of the summer in past years, but never the whole entire thing.


Today I was walking around Vienna in the heat and humidity, which felt very much like Pennsylvania in the summer.  While looking around in the shops, I found a pretty (and super cheap) dragonfly ring.  For 4,95 Euro I thought it would be a nice little treat.  I love dragonflies.  Back home at the Graf Pond, we have what seems like hundreds of them.  They hover in the air near the water’s edge, their iridescent bodies shimmering with blues, greens, and purples.  Sometimes when you lay out on the water on a raft, they’ll land on you, giving you an up close look at their intricate beauty.  I’d love to see a real dragonfly right about now.  Days like this really make me think of home.  Of summers by the Graf Pond.  Nothing compares to sitting out by the cabana, enjoying a drink as the sun sets over the water.  I miss it.  I miss the sound of the birds in the woods along the pond’s southern shore.  I miss the waterlilies over by the island.  I miss swimming in the clean clear freshwater; the way the late summer makes the top layer of water super warm, while the depths are chillingly cold when you stretch down your toes.  I miss seeing the woods lit up like Christmas from all the lightning bugs at night.  Heck, I even miss mowing our ginormous lawn.  (Yeah, even the push-mower; it’s great exercise!)


I talk to my friends and family back home on FB and Skype.  Of course sometimes we’re better at keeping up with it than others, but I appreciate every little bit of it.  Because I miss them all too.  I miss my marathon dinners with Megan and my “Pond picnics” with Kristina.  I miss my theatre family.  I miss my former co-workers.  I miss all my singers.  I miss my nieces.


But here’s the deal: the path I chose was one that would give me even more happiness than all those wonderful things back home could give me.  My chosen path is one of love.  I honestly love Miloš more than I’ve ever loved anything or anyone in this entire world, and he loves me back just as much.  It’s wonderful and amazing and fantastic – how lucky we are to have found each other!  I discovered a way to be able to be closer to him, so I took it.  I had to.  (My dual citizenship.)  Having the ocean between us was hard enough at the beginning, but now it would be psychologically and emotionally traumatizing.  Heck, we’re near the beginning of a two and a half week stretch apart (after getting three and a half weeks together) and we’re going absolutely crazy from it.  I just couldn’t imagine any more three month stretches apart like we used to do.  No.  Nope.  No way.


So here I am, on my blurry path of happiness, tinged with the occasional melancholy.  Miloš and I didn’t get to do what some other international couples do.  He works on a ship.  I couldn’t just move in with him.  We don’t have a shared place together anywhere.  (Oh, how simple that could have made things!)  So I had to go somewhere where I could have a place to live and be able to work as well.  Hence, Vienna.  (I speak German at an intermediate level, but you can live here almost entirely using English.)  It’s a lovely and comfortable city, yet it has a feeling of limbo to me.  Like I’m between worlds.


But I’m beginning to see that perhaps Vienna’s role is to help me transition.  Not just transition gently to a new continent, but transition to a new definition of “home.”  We often think of “home” as a fixed set place.  And I guess I will always refer to where I’m from in PA as my “home” in conversations and such.  However, now I get that warm comfortable feeling of “home” in a new way.  It’s not strictly contingent on my geographical location.  The times when I truly feel home are the times when I’m with Miloš.  His presence and his love fill me with such joy, that all the sad spaces get filled in and I’m just left with happiness.   We’re actively working and trying to end ANY of the time apart, but it’s not simple.  It’s a process.  There are laws and languages and jobs involved.  But we’re working on it.  We have goals and plans and we are trying to make them happen.  Someday we will have our own “together-home,” and maybe then home will be a place again.


In the meantime, anywhere we are at any point in time, if Miloš and I are together, I feel home.  Home is where the heart is, and my heart is with my man.


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Jennifer was initially drawn to Europe for two reasons: music and love.  She lived in Vienna for four years, and now calls Croatia home for much of each year, as she married a native Croatian. Since 2015, Jennifer has worked as a tour director and cruise director on European river cruises for a major American travel company, and has become an expert in all of the cities along her routes on the Danube, Rhine, and Main Rivers. She also has traveled to Disney World almost every year since 1985, and knows Disney World inside and out. As a travel agent, Disney World is her primary specialty, and she has helped many Disney newbies and veterans have amazing trips with her insider information.

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