“You can’t go home again.” That statement is, among other things, a book title, a cliché, and…utterly, totally true.
I was chatting with one of my nears and dears yesterday, someone with whom I’ve shared the kind of experiences and laughter that cement a heart bond. As we typed to each other, and then switched to a video call, I realized that we’re now on opposite sides of the world. There are literally oceans and continents between us in either direction.
I still think of Oklahoma as “back home.” Being in immigration limbo, I can’t really travel back to Oklahoma to visit yet, not until I gain permanent resident status here. But I’ve realized that, even though I’ll be thrilled to go back and visit when my status allows, I can’t ever go “home” again. My concept of “home” isn’t a location. It’s not a particular patch of dirt, it can’t be found along along a familiar stretch of road, and it’s not tied to some specific building, neighborhood, city, state, or even nation.
Home was the life I had in Oklahoma. It changed as time went on, but it was made up mostly of people, those who filled my life with noise and motion, laughter and understanding. Certainly, I called various houses and apartments in Oklahoma “home” at different times in my life. But the word really meant much more, and was much bigger. I realize now that “home” depended as much (or more?) on time as it did on space. And I can never, ever get back to that time. It’s a memory, not some concrete spot to which I can return.
When I finally get to go back to the States to visit, it won’t be the same. Already, one dear friend is across the globe, another is in Europe, another will soon move to Japan. Of those who remain, some may not have time and room in their lives to fit in a visit, others may have fallen out of touch. I won’t be a “regular” anywhere anymore. I moved, and people move on.
I’m not devastated by this realization, but I am…I guess wistful is the best word I can come up with to describe how I feel (after a few minutes on thesaurus.com). Or perhaps nostalgic. I am saddened. But I am also smiling as I rifle through the memories in my mind. There’s quite a catalog, so many good times! It’s beyond reach now, forever, but I sure did have fun while I occupied that time and space. I can never go home again, but that home lives in my heart and can never be taken from me, either.