Going home again

ImageThey say you can’t ever, ever, go home again.

In a way, it’s true. Life has changed, people have moved on, the place is subtly different and yet familiar.

I recently went for a visit to Ottawa, my home several times over my life – as a new nurse, taking on my first, terrifying job; as a newish mother and first-time home owner, starting to take on grown-up commitments and lifestyles; as an experienced military wife, choosing to keep my life separate from the military; and as a single person again, coming “home” to a place that could take care of me, in the physical, sensory, emotional ways.

It is a beautiful city, though it was drenched with heat so intense I wanted to lie about and gasp in air conditioning. The grass, green when I arrived, had already started to brown before I left, three days later. The canal was gorgeous, the city all dressed in Canadian flags for Canada Day, sounds of music everywhere from bagpipes to opera.

But it wasn’t home, so mingled with the recognition and the pleasure in seeing old friends and family was the tiniest bit of grieving.

I’ve lived so many places, and loved most of them (Leavenworth was a bit much, really). I’ve tried to return to a few of them, with various disappointments. Shilo, Manitoba, was no longer a fun place to live with the kids. Annapolis Royal, NS, though sweet, seems small and empty. Kingston, ON – well, I could still live in Kingston. I may live there again one day. I liked it there, both as a student and as a grown-up, though I have many sad memories associated with the place – the breakup of my marriage, my job failures, the discovery of my illness, all that stuff. The pleasant memories outnumber them, though, so on balance it seems a good place. And there’s the lake…

Flying into Nova Scotia, I happened to see the coast as we crossed over the Bay of Fundy, and was suddenly, unexpectedly, simply, happy. I feel at home here, in one scant year, and yet I still feel there is so much to learn about my new place. I think I’ll be exploring for years. It makes me smile.

It is funny meeting up with people from the past, though. Some are friends forever, and it doesn’t matter how long it’s been since last you saw them – they still call to your heart. Some have changed and you realize the relationship you cherished is no longer sustainable. Some make you wish you could be just down the road from them again. It isn’t predictable which will be which. I met all three types of friends over this short visit.

So coming back there is a sense of loss, a sadness, but also a sense of completion. Time to move on, taking those friends that stay along for the ride. I’m so happy to have so many of them. You know who you are. I love you all.