The statue of the wizard Merlin in my hometown, Carmarthen
It's always strange going home. The first few days I want to go back to Milan, and by the time it gets to the last couple of days or so I want to stay longer. And this time I felt like a fish out of water for longer than usual, due to the amount of time I'd been away for.
Even though I'd been in London at the end of February last year, the last time I'd been back to see my family was Christmas 2009. And a lot of things can change in 16 months. People change, places change - you change. With it only being a week it's then never going to be a normal week home, like the weeks I'd spend during holidays during my time at uni for example. So little time means trying to do as much as possible. Seeing people, days away, meals out. As I said to a sales assistant at Heathrow on the way back - the same conversation created the quote in the title of this post - it was a holiday, a holiday from my normal, everyday life in Milan. My life was upside down compared to the holidaymakers she usually saw.
Trying to get Honey, the family dog, to pose for a photo is no mean feat...!
But in all its strangeness it was still a nice week. I caught up with family and friends I hadn't seen for the best part of a year and a half. Everyone said I'd changed, thanks to my slightly drastic haircut. We went out to eat at a Chinese restaurant we'd been going to since I was around eight years old. We went down to the coast for a day - and had some fantastic ice cream at an ice cream parlour founded by an Italian family! And of course, we went shopping! There's a new shopping centre in my hometown, and I got quite a few bargains (£1 jeggings, thanks New Look!!). And the weather was beautiful, all week!
The amazing sundae at Fecci's, Tenby
But I never felt like I belonged, not like I used to, not like I do in Milan. Regardless of the fact that I was only there for a week, walking around my hometown I felt like a foreigner. I expected the strange looks that I still sometimes get in Milan, from not looking like the rest of the population. Well, I certainly wasn't dressed like everyone else - everyone else was walking around in their summery clothes whilst I was still in jeans and a jacket!
And I missed being in Italy. Little habitual things that I used to take for granted such as listening to Italian radio. It's nice to be back. I'm used to it here, I know what to expect. I guess that's just one of the things that you have to learn to deal with if you're away from your home country for so long - feeling like a stranger in your own country.