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how was your trip? they will ask
I won’t really have an answer, though I’ll think
what is that word for when you feel such melancholy that your chest starts hurting? for when the blues is so raw that your body can’t help but translate the emotional impulse to a physical ache

what is that word for when you can see your elders growing old, when they can no longer keep up a conversation with you, and you’re scared that one of these visits will be the last time you’ll see them?

is there a saying for when you’re so glad that you still have friends from childhood that, no matter how long you haven’t seen them, conversations just flow like some metaphorical flood gates have been opened?

how do you express the weight of nostalgia you feel when you see old pen marks on the wall, marking your height growth in your childhood home

how do you convey to someone, I can only say “It was great, nice to see family and friends”, because if I attempt to give more substance it’s like a trigger, and it wouldn’t be fair to unleash this torrent of thoughts on a well-meaning acquaintance

will they get it if I mention the slight tinge of guilt when there’s glitches in my mother tongue, or the privilege of going home and feeling like I’m home

is it polite to say “There’s not yet a word to describe this feeling in the English language, so the word ‘bittersweet’ will have to do”
will they understand what I mean when I say it was me who made the choice to leave, either out of bravery or stupidity, and for every time I feel glad to have left, there’s an equal weight of regret looming in the background

how was your trip? they will ask
is it appropriate to say “I returned to a city and country that has broken my heart plenty, and slowly I’ve come to understand why I break hearts”
can I say that I’m now too foreign for here, and too foreign for home, but never enough for both

the art of coming home means learning a tricky dance and committing to a lifelong performance
because to leave home is to understand that you’re leaving a part of your person and sticking it in amber: crystalized, ready for safe keeping
I haven’t figured out how to keep it safe just yet.

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Diaspora blues image + text via theijeoma