I'm not often homesick. Every so often I'll have a craving for a certain brand of cereal, or think about how simple it was to get exactly where I needed to in a car. But these aren't enough to make me want to move back; I find new favorite foods, enjoy the stress-free benefits of public transportation, and adjust with time.
Obviously, missing family and friends is a separate challenge. People aren't something you can just replace, even if you make new friends along the way. I'm glad to live in the age of video chat and voice messages, but I can't wait for the next time I hug my mom or grab coffee with a friend who knows what Taco Bell is.
Last time I returned to the States, I noticed a new sense of agoraphobia; there was just so much space, along the roads or between people in the lines at the bank. I found myself standing too close to people in supermarkets, and getting weird looks when I went to the grocery store every day instead of once a week. I also had a hard time relating to some basic conversation bits: I hadn't heard the latest song on the radio, or the drama behind the friend-of-a-friend's relationship.
I'm not a hundred percent at home in Kyiv, either. I have barriers of language (something I'm working on but, honestly, is a limitation that could have been solved earlier if I'd put in the work sooner rather than later), culture, and thinking. Some things can be learned, but other gaps can't be bridged. I don't share the same memories and upbringing, and that's okay.
The differences are often entertaining, especially in an intercultural marriage. My husband still huffs when I drink cold milk or leave the house without a sweater; I complain when he says the nearest shop is only a 20 minute walk away when we both known damn well that it'll take at least 45. Just yesterday the babushka who guards our apartment complex chastised me for taking out the trash at night, an act comparable to opening an umbrella inside.
Circling back: I'm not often homesick. But Thanksgiving is always a hard time of the year for me. There's no holiday equivalent; my husband calls stuffing "ramen-flavored soggy bread." I can't find everything I need to make a pumpkin pie, and I don't have American football to ignore.
This year we're having a taco night with some friends as a makeshift "friendsgiving." The tacos will have cabbage, pickles, and the Ukrainian signature lack of spice. The conversation will be peppered with Ukrainian, Russian, and English. But the fellowship will be good, and the weather on the chillier side of fall. So I'm reminding myself, this Thanksgiving, to be grateful for both of these worlds.