I Could Not Go “Home” Again. We both changed.

314727c1e46cdb5b86657abce20b6c8eI confess I am a bit of a nomad, having lived in ten states and moved more times than I can count with both my fingers and toes.

That said, occasionally I go back to places I have lived and I discovered something.

The adage “you can’t go home again” isn’t accurate. Sometimes you can.  But it’s shifted.

I returned to a town in Florida last week for a friend’s daughter’s wedding.  I lived there from 2001 to 2010.  I had not been back since 2012 when I attended a trade show.  That year I saw tiny changes and growth. Nothing disturbing. I felt weird about being there as both good and bad memories knocked at my consciousness.  By the time I had driven from the airport to my friend’s house, I understood that how I felt about the place was up to me. I could choose to remember all the crap (and man there was a LOT of it) that went down there. Or, I could acknowledge that bad crap and then politely tell it I had already dealt with it in spades (and after thousands in therapist hours and fees), and it could leave.  A deep breath and I invited in the good stuff that happened there and a wonderful thing happened. Gratitude.  My second son was born there. I had made incredible friends I will keep for life there.  I had a great job.  My oldest learned to swim… the list went on.  I resolved to move past the crap.

This time the town I went back to barely resembled the town I had left in 2010 or even the town I had seen in 2012.  It was angrier. Busier. Full of uncontrolled growth.  There was more traffic, more faces, and fewer places I recognized.   I realized I was looking at a place from the outside – no longer as a former resident.  I had never lived in this town. Not in this incarnation.  It was weirdly disturbing.  Very uncomfortable.  I was thankful for the friends who were still there to help me adjust to the new version of the town.  I didn’t find it an improvement.  There were more conveniences (and convenience stores!), an ER, a ton of new restaurants (mostly chains), and more traffic lights.  I drove past my kids’ old schools, and a house I used to own.

I was on the outside looking in – there was glass between me and it.  That glass was time.  I was older. So was the town.

Why did I think it would not change? Would not grow? I have.

Which made me wonder.  In novels I read, characters go back to places they have lived after a decent passage of time and find the places UNCHANGED.  Is that ever realistic?

After visiting three or four towns I have lived in in my lifetime.  Every single one had changed in an almost violent, frantic, way.

Will I go back to places I have lived?  Sure.  Now though, I am prepared for my emotional reaction upon seeing something as seemingly insignificant as the ice cream shop I took my kids to… now shuttered.



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