Today, I wanted to share some of what I've been reflecting on after my first trip back "home".
I've been thinking about that saying "you can't go home again". Home is never the same. You're never the same. And I think in this case, it's true. I was gone from Colorado for almost exactly 13 months. A lot changed in my pre-England life. People have moved away. New buildings have been constructed and old buildings have been torn down. A lot at my old job has changed. And even though I slept in the same bed I did before I moved and drove the same car I did before I moved, it still felt different. I said to people it felt like an extremely long weekend in my "old life", but something was still slightly off.
When my mom picked us up from the airport, I didn't even think twice about getting in on the passenger side. At lunch that afternoon, Luke mentioned that the cars in the intersection were freaking him out and I thought, "oh yeah, we're on the other side of the road." I took that to mean I wasn't as assimilated to my English life as I had thought. Interestingly enough, I had no problem adjusting back when we got in our car at the airport in London.
A friend who had lived abroad but now lives back in Colorado, where she's also from, said, "Why can't you belong to both places?"
For the most part, I was quickly submerged back into life in Colorado. I didn't need to look for directions except for maybe twice when I couldn't quite remember how to get somewhere. I did a lot of the driving, which I hadn't done since I left the States. I felt at home in my mom's house, and as comfortable as I did before at my dad's and my sister's. The food we had tasted as good as I remembered it. The mountains were where I left them. And it was as hot in July as it ever was.
But in other ways, it was really hard and really sad. There were people who didn't reach out to see me at all before or during my visit. There were people who, when I texted them, didn't seem interested in trying to see me at all. There were people who I just simply never heard from, despite our connections on social media where I was so obviously back. There were people who reached out too late and we didn't have any time left to schedule something.
Of course communication is a two way street. I could list my own (poor) excuses and take my share of the responsibility. But some of that really hurt my feelings. It was tough to come to terms with the fact that some of my friendships are one-sided, some of my friendships aren't a priority to either party, and that some of my friendships are just gone. It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately, even before going back. I've been trying to cut ties with people when the friendship becomes toxic for me. When I'm stressing about why this person hasn't texted me back but has posted a new Instagram or trying to read between the lines of a message. It's not healthy and it's not worth it. But that doesn't mean the ending of those friendships don't hurt. And my visit home seemed to bring the apparent ending to some friendships I didn't think were over.
We'll be back later this year and maybe some of that will change, but that's where my head and my heart are at right now. None of those relationships are beyond repair, but from where I'm standing right now, it looks like it would be a lot of work. And that's what long distance friendships take anyway.
While we were there, we did see a lot of people. We were able to catch up with friends and family. We got to see a lot of people at my brother's wedding as well. It was great seeing family friends I hadn't seen in years and family and friends who weren't able to make it across the pond to our wedding. We answered questions about our wedding and our life abroad. People kept bringing up my lack of driving and now Luke is really pushing for me to take lessons. It was a lot of the same, as those things go, but it was also a reminder that this isn't my home anymore. I would have seen a lot of those people in the last year. I would have caught up with them more frequently. I would have met some of my friends' kids already.
The most frequent question we were asked is if we would ever move back. The reasons that we chose the UK a year and a half ago haven't changed, so it's difficult to say. We're both open to the idea of moving back eventually, but it wouldn't be under these circumstances. I suppose moving back would be tough as well because the longer I stay here, the more here feels like home. We'll always be leaving behind people we love and places we'll miss. We'll always be closing the door on a chapter of our lives and even if we arrive back at that door, we won't be the same people as the two who left.
Maybe this post seems depressing or all over the place. But the truth is I'm still processing being home. I'm still digging to the bottom of why in the middle of one night while we were there, in the darkness, I buried my face in Luke's arm and quietly asked him not to hate me for wanting to move back right away. I'm still digging to the bottom of why when we opened the door to our house when we got back, I felt a wave of relief and peace come over me at the threshold to our home.
Sometimes it feels like I don't belong in either place. Like I'm straddling both worlds, unable to fully commit to either. But I keep coming back my friend's words: Why can't I belong to both places?