Less than a week from Thanksgiving now, and I just realized that I will probably have my usual Portuguese lesson on the actual day. Not in Kansas anymore, for sure!

However, I had an epiphany this morning that I think will make all the difference in the long run. As I was making my breakfast, I realized that a large part of my homesickness here is that I am comparing this year abroad to past ones, and assume that this year’s transience is just the beginning of an extended period of homelessness.

Whenever I’ve lived overseas before, the homesickness of being in a different country was magnified by the underlying knowledge that I actually didn’t have a home to go back to. I always had my parents house, of course, but never my own — by necessity, I had always moved out of whatever dorm or apartment I was living in at the time in order to move overseas.

I keep forgetting that this year is different, because at the end of it, I get to go back to my own house. Granted, it will take a while to get it set up again and erase the marks the tenants leave there. But regardless, a year from now, I will be making breakfast in the house we own, in the home we’ve made together, and looking forward to Thanksgiving. By then, the memory of watching Lisbon wake up through my window will be just that: a memory.

Even more importantly though — I will be doing the same thing the year after that, and the year after that one, over and over until we go on sabbatical again in seven years’ time. In other words: this is only a temporary displacement. Not a permanent one, nor the sign of a larger state of transience and impermanence in my life.

Apparently, even after living in our house with Gabe for almost three years, the concept of having a permanent home still has yet to fully settle in. Hopefully once it does, I can relax into our year abroad a little more and enjoy what I have here without worrying so much about what I am going back to. Because my house is still there, albeit with college students in it, and this is all temporary.

With that in mind… yesterday was another good and productive day. We’re definitely on a roll here. I had my personal training session in the morning, which turned out to be far more helpful than I’d anticipated. My trainer gave me a whole set of exercises to rehabilitate my knee, which was wonderful, and something I’d been wanting to do for quite a while. But we didn’t neglect my upper body, either, which my biceps are already reminding me of this morning — he gave me a whole other set of arm/back exercises to do as well, which will give some tone to my skinny little twig arms.

Overall, I really enjoyed walking around the weight room and talking with my trainer (in English, thankfully.) Unlike a lot of the people who work at this gym, he is a shy, wiry, totally non-pushy guy, whose French birth gives him not only his name but also a slightly different tilt to his English than what I’m used to hearing. (He was shocked when I told him he had a French accent, as if I’d just informed him he’d been walking around with toilet paper on his shoe or something: “No one ever told me that before!”)

Best part of all: he didn’t try to sell me on anything, for which I was greatly relieved. He was genuinely concerned with helping me recover and get stronger, which was a welcome change from the attitude I’ve come to expect at this gym. It definitely went far to compensate for the now-infamous Bikini Incident last week!

I came home, tired and hungry after doing just half of my new workout. Gabe and I both worked at home for a few hours in the afternoon, crammed together at our one desk, with the sounds of the neighborhood and the increasingly chilly afternoon air coming in through the open window.

I soon left again for my Portuguese lesson, which was conducted mainly in English this time, due to my brain being fried after two days of website coding. (Turns out I can only learn one language at a time!) Even though we didn’t have one of our usual wide-ranging societal discussions, this time we made a different, more technical kind of progress, reviewing the past tense and prepositions, which I needed. We did at one point get into the politics of the swine flu vaccine, but as that conversation was conducted in English, it only counted toward my overall education, not my Portuguese skills in particular.

I meandered home as usual, enjoying the remnants of the sunset and the chill in the air, the yellowing leaves and the quickly multiplying Christmas lights on the buildings. All this is temporary, I thought to myself. So enjoy the hell out of it.

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