Apparently You Can't Go Home... And That's Not a Cliche

by - 9:49 PM

I read once that you can "never go home." That's not unique though, right? We've all heard that. In fact, probably none of what I experience is unique, but maybe I'm self-absorbed, because almost none of the obvious stuff becomes real until I feel it. So anyway, this weekend, I felt it -- I went back and it wasn't home.

Because life goes on. You leave, things change, you go back, it's not the same. You can't go home. It's all very sad. 

When I was sixteen, my Opa decided to repaint the kitchen and living room. We're pretty basic people, so white it is. BUT, you guys, I got to repaint my bedroom and that felt pretty friggin' extravagant. Again, I was sixteen, so naturally I got a little ludicrous because I thought I was OMG, so-yu-neek, and so I chose a shade of Home Depot orange that suggests the fiery pits of hell. I also had red shag carpeting, so let that hell fire situation simmer a little more in your imagination. It's basically everything you think it is. And I thought it was wonderful.

Post painting, I promptly hung a Desperate Housewives poster -- it was 2004, after all -- and called it home.

It looked like this, if you're wondering:

Let me tell you a little something. The red carpet is still there, shaggy as ever. The walls are still orange. The DH poster probably still lingers. But that room, it's not mine anymore. Doesn't smell like Love Spell, doesn't have my clothes laying on the floor, no rogue bottles of nail polish on the night stand and no backpack laying in the corner, ignored between the hours of all the time and twenty minutes before class.

I don't even sleep there anymore. When I visit, I sleep in the guest bedroom, but that's not really the point. I really meant to talk more about how you really can't ever go home, because actually you can, but you can never reenact the way it felt and so it will never feel right ever again. All that time, in that orange room and in the white kitchen and in the even whiter living room, I thought I was just living, but I wasn't. I was do this life thing that would mature and grow up to have good feelings that I just can't trap and catch back.

Not that I really want to. I mean, I'd love for my Oma to wash my sheets and cook me breakfast everyday, but there's something really surprisingly good about figuring out how to do nutrition well enough to not die, and earning all the things you have. I don't really want to go back, but sometimes I miss the feeling. The nostalgia it just kind of feels good to wallow in it, you know?

My friend KJ grew up a few minutes away and she's the kind of girl who was born a boss leader power house who probably wouldn't mind being the leader of the free world, if only everyone would please just be obedient. Anyway, her house was the meeting place. I spent formative years in that house -- all our friends did.

It took me a long time to get to the point, but here it is. KJ is having her first baby and this weekend, we celebrated that with a big time shower in her honor. At her parent's house.

I think the first time I really felt the "you can never go home" feeling was as I was pulling into her old neighborhood and after literally a decade of just walking in, I pulled a Carrie Bradshaw and couldn't help but wonder -- do I need to knock now?

This is like an existential crisis. Who am I? What is the world? Do adults knock on doors?

I don't think I was the only one who felt it either, because we tried to kick things old school and orchestrate a classic girl's night sleepover thing. But then very real things like motherhood and careers and move down south sent all four of us headed in opposite directions by the end of the day. Which felt really natural and good, but also felt like we will probably never return to the way things were. Circa 2007 when an 11pm Taco Bell run was pretty normal and walking into the Johnson's house without knocking wasn't some kind of dramatic mental conflict.

This is not sad, just different. And I feel pretty confidently that someday, this life thing that I'm doing right now, which feels pretty mundane and normal and not interesting -- I bet someday it will hold nostalgic feelings. A lot can change in a year. About a bazillionity things will almost certainly change in ten. I trust the process -- someday, all of this will mean something. I just won't know until I'm removed from it and can only appreciate it because I can't come back.

Isn't that something?


I meant to really write about KJ's baby shower and maybe share a picture of two, but then I sat at my computer and bled words that I wasn't expecting. It kind of took a bummy road, and that doesn't feel like the right segway to talk about a brand new human life. So next time, maybe.

And in the meantime:

I hope I'm always nostalgic for slow mornings like this, with these girls, when they're still so little.

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