Wednesday, August 24, 2011

You Can Never Go Home Again

I always thought that the phrase "You can never go home again" was kind of silly.  Of course you can go home again, provided certain criteria still existed; for example the building existed, the people still exist there, etc.  My Mom still lives at home, she still lives in the same house and thus, I could always go home again if the need arose, and I have visited home a couple weekends ago.  But that's not really what that saying means.  Because once you leave home, it'll never be the same home again.

Oh, I'm sure many of you who might read this have realized it before, and I'm pretty sure on some level from time to time I have as well.  But as I was finishing up a book today, it took on a different meaning to me.  The book was by Alan Dean Foster, who is one of my favorite authors, and I collect nearly every book that he's got out there I can find.  This time I found his "Taken Trilogy" which is about a fellow who gets kidnapped off of Earth by a bunch of aliens and then has to find his way back home, light-years away with no one to come get him, because obviously we humans don't have faster-than-light travel.  Spoiler alert, but after years of being away from Earth, when he finally gets a chance to come back, he realizes he doesn't want to because the universe is now open to him.

Imagine going back to live with your parents and they're still changing your diapers and spoon feeding you; kinda like that.

They've been talking a lot on the radio this week about how all of these college students are leaving home for the first time and how things will never be the same again.  A couple were in tears over remembering the first time that they left home and how it felt because they never went back to live with their parents again.  I don't think people ever think about it when they finally leave, because there are so many things going on during the leaving - packing, classes, weddings, etc.  Only later we reflect about the things that have changed and how our worlds have expanded into something so much bigger and better that even if we did go back to the physical location of home, it will never be the same home ever again.  We can't just settle back into things with the way our worlds have expanded.

My own personal world has expanded very un-noticeably until I headed home again a few weekends ago.  Going home, everything was familiar, but there were so many other things that I have come to take for granted, that home seemed oddly lacking.  Of course, the city I've moved to recently seems kind of lacking too, although just a 20 minute drive will take me to where my old apartment was located and all of the stuff that was there, it seems like I went from having everything conveniently located to having something taken away again.  That's when it really struck me this afternoon and why I haven't been feeling entirely like myself these past few months.  I can't go home again, I can't go back to the place I first called home since I'd left my original home.

We've been making this place more and more like home since we moved here, but it's still not completely home.  There are familiar pictures on the walls and things everywhere, but when I come home I still feel as if I'm not completely home yet.  A home is not only a place where you live, where you hang your hat, where you keep your stuff, but where you come home to family, or even where others know where to find you.  Mind you I have a few friends who have come over, but all of those people I used to know when I lived in the original house I grew up in, none of those people (besides my Mom) have been over.  None of my other relatives like Aunts and Uncles will probably ever visit because they have no interest in coming into town.  My brother has gone off across country and will probably never see this house.  None of my friends from then will ever visit because, again, they have no interest in making a trip to come see me.  I keep up my flower gardens and I enjoy keeping my house tidy and decorated by the seasons, but only a few local people, my Mom and my In-Laws will probably ever step foot here.

How can this place be called a "home" without people stopping by to say hello?  Without people saying, "Oh!  Congrats on your house, I'd love to see it!"  And then actually following through?  I had one co-worker of 20+ who actually came over when I invited all of them to my house warming party.  Maybe I'm just being bitter again about the whole ordeal, but in fact, it's true.  I don't feel like I live here completely.  I rarely venture out of this house without my husband, and even though I know I could, I don't feel like I want to either.

So what truly constitutes "coming home again"?  Being greeted by family and friends?  Having pets greet you after years away?  Moving your stuff back?  I guess it would be different for all of us, but it wouldn't be the same for we've all expanded our horizons and pushed back the curtains that originally surrounded our lives at home.  Maybe I'm not satisfied with my own living conditions because I remember having people stop by unexpectedly.  I remember having family and friends want to come over and see where I'm living and what I'm doing.  I remember going out and having fun on my own, taking trips and enjoying the view, only to return home and it felt like home.

So maybe that is what I truly need: to come home and feel like it's home, to want it to be home every time I return to it.  Maybe that's why when we move away from our childhood homes, we can't do that anymore, because we want to come home to our own houses, not those of our parents.  Perhaps it's the lack of that which makes it harder for some people to leave their parents.  They feel like they are home too much, and that they could never make another place feel as much like home.  That fear, that their house/apartment/flat will never be just like the home their parents have made for them, and thus they never try, they never leave, and they never expand their horizons to the full potential that they could.  There is so much out there to see, to do, to feel, to experience, and maybe it's just easier to imagine having that home anchor somewhere you've always been.

As for me, that home anchor is still a fleeting thing.  I've experienced so many things and been places that have somehow made it harder to feel at ease even here in my own chair, in front of my own computer, in my own house that I painted top to bottom, cleaned and decorated to suit my own tastes.  What will make it a home? What will make it the home that I want to return to?  I'm not sure, but I'm waiting to find out.

For those of you who might try going out there on your own for the first time, whether it be for college, just moving out to get married, or whatever, you'll never go home again.  It'll be different every time you return, and the only hope you have is to make whatever place you next live in the next home.  And then you can return to that one, the new one, because there are endless possibilities of home.  You might not be able to go home again but you can sure as hell create home with each new place you live.

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