On coming home

To call it ‘home’ in the first place is supposedly definitive. But it is a word that I interchange, and I am not sure that it is as important as it could be.

I have been gone for fourteen months; it was my third extended absence, and also my longest. I am no returning expat or long-lost child who has been gone for years and years; I am just part of the generation that picks up stumps between 18 and 25 and takes off for a while. Most of us come back, periodically, to confront or remember or re-experience the home that we left.

I feel childlike here, yet I also feel old. I have seen this place across so many years.

There is a sense of belonging, but also a feeling that those with whom I belong are nonetheless moving on without me.

I feel at ease, here in familiar surrounds where the summer sun has the same intensity that I remember. It is a town known for taking it easy, and it’s smoothing me over too, calming me down, bringing me back into its rhythms.

Yet there is the itch of temporariness, the knowledge of another imminent departure. I am constantly wondering if this really is home, to the exclusion of all other places.

This time, I also wonder if I have pushed it too far – if I have been gone too long, so that this place can never be what it once was.

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