Reflections: Trans-Atlantic Homes of an Expat Child

By Chloe Wightman

Dover, Delaware, USA
5 years old

Photo submitted by Chloe Wightman

Lazy Sundays on a gritty East Coast beach, or racing through a tube slide into a turquoise pool. Running through wildflowers, hands dripping with amber sap, or rummaging through dusty antiques. That familiar twinge of anxiety when somersaulting off the beam, or writing letters to my family. The back of a yellow school bus, a snowball fight in soggy gloves, or crossing my fingers on a roller coaster. Smiling through ice cream, or picking a four-leaf clover.

Manchester, England
12 years old

Photo submitted by Chloe Wightman

The heavens opening, drenching my skin, or wind chimes whistling in the wind. Wandering home through lavender-lined streets, or weaving daisies into crowns on the school field. Laughing while gasping for air, or lying in late summer breeze with a half-price novel. The heat from a radiator, a little thatched cottage, or an eternal ballet rehearsal. Stumbling up green hills, scattered with daffodils, or straightening my shirt and tie.

Jackson, Missouri, USA

16 years old

Photo submitted by Chloe Wightman

Purple slashing through the sky, or floating in a quiet lake. Music drifting through car windows, or slow dancing in the gym. Sweating under stage spotlights, or rearranging Polaroids from distant times. The anticipation in a baseball stadium, afternoon sun on my back in Spanish class, or the wooden swing at the pumpkin patch. Dreaming about the past, or walking through the empty airport.

Tears drying on a tissue, or a grieving hug without words. Hands grasping tighter in the cold, or eyes shining with laughter. Walking in silence, or a knowing look. A tentative smile, a familiar face, or a kiss on the cheek. Something I should’ve said, or a slow wave goodbye.

My surroundings will always change and the years might linger, but the things that I’ve seen and the people I love are still with me when I look in the mirror.