Coming home to normal

There’s something about coming home that’s unlike any other feeling.

I clambour off the bus with my hand luggage and two suitcases (Rasmus has gone directly into the office so I took his home too). Up the front steps. I open the mailbox and fish out the pile of bills, restaurant adverts, and one actually-intriguing looking letter. And then somehow negotiate everything into the lift (I don’t need an excuse today) and up three floors to our front door.

I dump everything on the hallway floor and wander around the rooms, setting all the automatic metal blinds to open, letting light in. The flat smells slightly of dead plant (the houseplant on the dining table had died a tragic death) so I open wide the french doors on both balconies to let the air come through the house.

I’ve had roughly an hour and a half of sleep on the overnight plane from Entebbe and two hours dozing on the train back to Luxembourg. But I’m home.

I sit down at the dining table and open the post. I love opening envelopes. Even if it’s just a bill or another impersonal charity drive, I get such a satisfaction from ripping them open (a trait I’m certain is genetic, having seen my mum fight to get to the doormat first when the postman comes). There’s bills and Danish tax documents and credit card statements that I just glance over to check for any unexpected charges. Deep breath.

I’ve left the best for last and discover a packet of radish seeds from my sweet friend Juliana (Thank you my lovely!) and a card wishing me good luck with my first crop. Rasmus and I have a planting day planned for Saturday.

Then it’s upstairs with the suitcases and I sort all the laundry into piles. I love doing the laundry. It’s my favourite household work. When Rasmus and I divide the chores each time, I always take laundry. Something about the process of something dirty becoming so clean and smelling so good. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as folding clean laundry. I carry the first load down to the laundry room in the basement – with a hotter setting than normal because there’s a lot of Burundian and Ugandan dust to get out.

And then finally I let myself do what I’ve been waiting for and daydreaming of – I strip out of the last dusty clothes and turn the shower on hot. I stay in there a good ten minutes, scrubbing and washing and rinsing until I felt completely clean again, the many layers of red African dust removed and I’m surprised to find there is actually some tan under there, not just dirt.

And so renewed, I head downstairs, boil the kettle, pull out the nettle tea and honey (because after two and a half weeks of big big portions, I am in need of a detox and my digestive system would just like a break please) and turn on the computer to the hundreds of emails, facebook notifications and tweets I have missed.

There’s so much to catch up and so much to do. But I’m easing myself back into it. Because being away? Being so thoroughly unconnected for two weeks? It did my soul good. I got to think more, write more, sit and wait more. And sometimes I was bored, and my fingers itched for my phone. But mostly I just saw more, heard more, tasted more, touched more, smelt more. And I liked that.

Yesterday I was in Masaka, Uganda. Today I am home in Luxembourg. There’s a lot to get my head around, a lot to process, a lot to dive back into. But I’m going to try and take it a bit slower. Savour these moments of recognition and reunion around the flat. Enjoy looking at each and every photo that Claire and Leigh and Tina have taken of our trip. And just enjoy this home kind of normal again.