Some things change, and some things stay the same. This contradiction is the exact reason why coming home after you have moved away can be so difficult.
I have tried it a few times between my many address changes, and it hits me every time. Usually a few weeks at home are fine, but anything longer and my heart starts to ache with that realization.
While away, I hold onto the vision of home the way it was when I was there. I have dreams where I am in my childhood home or playing with my niece and nephews. I hold onto nostalgic flashbacks of dear friends in the state I knew them. Old family pets haven’t died. Nothing is built up, or tore down.
When you’re working hard to settle and grow into a new city, holding onto this sense of home is quite comforting. You need to believe that even in this new chaotic unknown, there is a sturdy constant you can run to.
It can be quite destructive to return home and realize these daydreams you have held onto are nothing but that: fantasy. Those friends you once spent every waking minute with, now can barely spare time in their schedule for a coffee date. Familiar buildings have been tore down and replaced with something bigger. It is “home” but it doesn’t have that same soothing embrace it once had. You know your away around, but you feel simultaneously lost. Home becomes a paradox, somewhere you know but can’t seem to find. You wish things could just stay the same.
And then there are those things (and people) who do stay the same, and that feels equally wrong. You’ve been out exploring and growing in ways you never even realized. Every encounter has stretched you; each conversation has brought expanded understanding. And now, here you find yourself in a place where so much seems to be stuck in time.
There’s a chasm between who you are and where you stand. It can be confusing and frustrating to a point where you don’t know anymore if the cure lies in staying or leaving.
This is the moment when you realize that the first time you left, was the last time you’d ever see home. And you can’t help but wonder, if you had known that back then, would you have taken that first step?
Getting lost on the streets of Barcelona