Last week was the two month-iversary of graduation, and now that the initial shock of it all is finally beginning to settle in (although the nausea still hasn’t…), I find myself back to where I started from: a place that has been there through both kickball and keg-stands, both diapers and diplomas, and now is where I’m currently enrolled in the class “What-Am-I-Doing-With-My-Life-101.” Just like that, I am home again, back to my old bedroom walls who heard my oh-so-sassy-preteen self rant about how my mother wouldn’t let me wear darker eyeliner. I was lucky enough to learn and grow in a home that allowed me so much love and laughter, somewhere I once thought I could stay forever if the option was given to me.
So when I first came back for good, I didn’t want it to be different, wanted my home to rearrange itself back to the way I had always remembered it to be. But we painted the walls, and we got a new remote for the television. There are hardwood floors where carpet once used to lay, and there are new curtains hanging loosely over the kitchen window. Things are changing. Things have always been changing. And it felt like all at once, the home that in so many ways shaped me, made me who I was, wasn’t the home that I once knew.
To quote my favorite heroine, Carrie Bradshaw: “And then I had a thought”:
You can’t go home again.
But seriously, why would you want to?
Oh my God, I can’t even think about the girl that I used to be, that angst-y-for-no-reason-whatsoever girl who – (when given a reasonable curfew of 10:00 PM for a fifteen year old) – swore that her parents “didn’t understand her,” the girl who ran after boys who made it clear (so painfully clear…) that they didn’t want to be chased, the girl who, if self-doubt was ammunition, could have fueled the next world war, the girl who called this place her home. And there was a time for her, and maybe I needed to be that girl then. But I’m not even sure if I know who she is anymore.
I made a promise to myself after I went abroad to see as much as the world as I possibly could, that there were way too many bookshops to read at and cafés to visit and cities to explore that a concrete home could never, maybe should never, exist. Not to say I was the cool, collected, travel-savvy-chick who handled everything with total grace and was fearless (believe me, this was not the case at all); but what scared me the most was how much I loved being some place new. The truth is, there was this part of me that wanted to hate it, to get back on that plane and turn around and go home, back to that same old bedroom, back to where I was safe, back to who I once was. Because once you go, you can never truly go back to that place, those early Christmas mornings when you swore you heard the jingling of sleigh bells, those last-days-of-school that were the only days you actually woke up on time for… all of those firsts, all of those heartbreaks, all of those memories.
But it’s only when you’re truly comfortable in a place that you know that it’s okay for you to leave it, to let it go, to let it evolve even if that means that it’s evolving without you.
Randomly sobbing has become such a regular in my life now that I don’t even bother to cover it up (to a point where it’s funny/alarming…), and it feels like I’m stuck in the strangest of middle-grounds between too many things, spinning a globe beneath my fingertips, asking myself both “How could you leave?” and “How could you stay?”
But maybe there isn’t a definite answer. Maybe that’s what home is: these different places and different pieces of who we were and who we could be scattered wherever we decide to leave them. To me, home is Exeter, home is Durham, home is London; home is the parents who continually let me crash on their couch and cry when I need to; home is the friends who became my family, home is everywhere and nowhere, wherever and whoever you need it to be.