I used to think there was no truth to that statement. After all, didn't I do just that three weeks ago today when I hopped on a plane and flew back to Ohio? Well, yes and no.
Going home was amazing! While the flight scared the jeebers out of me, watching the land below change from brown and barren to green and lush was so exciting. (Though it did take me awhile to realize that the fuzzy black patterns below were trees...It has clearly been way too long!) Driving away from the airport and seeing Ohio for the first time in two and a half years left me in awe! There were trees and hills and so many people!!! As we drove to dinner with my family I saw more people and cars in about 20 minutes than I've seen in almost three years in Idaho! We were on an 8 lane highway!!! It was a little frightening, and I had a certain moment of kin ship with the scared little Country Mouse his first time in the City. I realized then that I have been slightly institutionalized by our remote location and the feeling of security you get by living in what is essentially a highly guarded gated community. With jets. (Which I missed the sound of immensely while we were gone!)
So much was the same! Part of me felt like we had never left. Every way I turned my head there was something else as familiar to me as my own house. The flower shop on the corner that has been there since before I could remember, the park where they do the fireworks display every year, the street my high school is on...I could close my eyes and almost feel like I'd never been gone. Never been in Idaho for two and a half years. Idaho quickly began to feel like some kind of warped dream.
Best of all was my grandparent's home, which is very much the house that built me. It looked the same, it felt the same, it even smelled the same! For the first time in such a long time I got to hug my Grandmama! Before moving to Idaho, I had never gone much more than a month without seeing my grandparents in all of my life. Now they were meeting their Great-Grandson for the first time and he was a year old already. Not that they haven't seen pictures, (I've been told I don't take enough) but now they actually had the opportunity to touch him and hold him and see what an amazing little person he is for themselves.
We got to hear the sound of birdsong in the morning as hundreds of the little feathered creatures sang their homage to the rising sun. We got to listen as the wind blew through the trees. We hear plenty on wind in Idaho, but not the sounds as it sways through the branched and leaves...and the lack of trees in Idaho also leads to a lack of birds and thus morning choirs.
Then there were our friends and family! I can't begin to describe what it was like to see everyone again. While my mother, father, brother and sister had been out to Idaho a couple of times, no one else had been able to visit us in the time we had been gone. We hadn't seen our oldest niece since she was one and had never even met our youngest niece. Parker had to meet his Godparents (my cousin, Alexandra and our best friend, Chris.) and his great-grandparents...and it was wonderful for us to see them again too of course...it was overwhelming and amazing and busy. You never realize how much you are going to miss a place or its people until the chance to see them is gone. In many cases it was as though no time had passed at all. We eased back into our friendships and relationships as though we'd been gone for a long weekend instead of long years.
It was like we had never left.
Except that we had.
For all that was the same, there was just as much that was different. There were buildings and stores and places that we knew and frequented that were long gone. A walk through the Dayton Mall broke our hearts. It's turned into a ghost town to the point where tumbleweeds bouncing down the walkway wouldn't have surprised me at all. When we went back to my old school I was shocked to see the younger brothers and sisters of children I had taught were one and two classrooms above mine. Not that I didn't know that the children were growing, but seeing it with my own two eyes was a shock! Both of my parents are living somewhere new, which is a beautiful home, but it's still different than it was when we left...
Hardest of all was the changes in the people. As I said, with some of our people it was as easy to find our place with them as flipping open a familiar book. With others the passing in time was far too obvious. There is still friendship there, still emotions, but people change. No matter how much I would like it, time doesn't freeze when we leave a place, and people living their lives changes them, sometimes in different directions. I understand this. Michael and I have certainly changed. After all, we have a son now. That's changed us. For the better, but it's still a change. When you're coming back into a group of people who don't even have spouses, much less children, with a little toddling child at your side, things are bound to be different. There was a certain discomfort and uncertainty that I am not used to with my people, and it made me sadder than I can begin to express.
People have gotten older. My parents and Grandparents have all aged, which comes as a shock though I know it shouldn't. I think all of us to some extent believe that the important "grown ups" in our life will always be as we see them. Immortal. There are more gray hairs now. More little things that the unfamiliar eye will notice while someone who sees it every day would probably overlook. One of my dearest friends from high school is losing his father, a man who had always been so joking and youthful...
...Days pass, weeks pass, months pass, and years pass. They pass by quicker every year, and with their passing comes change. It can't be stopped, it can't be reasoned with, and it's not all bad. Some of it is very, very good...and it is still hard to see it happening and know that you can't go back to the way things were, even for a little while. I wouldn't change my life for anything, even as far as we must be from the people and places we love for now...but the distance makes true the statement that "you can't go home again". Yes, you can hop on a plane and go back to the places that remain. You can see the people, laugh about the old times and make new memories...but there will always be differences. Every day brings a new change, and all those changes add up. There were many good times during our trip to Ohio, but it brought about many realizations as well.
We will go home again as soon as we can, hopefully sooner than later. I look forward to it, but I know now that it won't be the same ever again, not really. And that's OK, even if it is a little sad.
God bless and thank you for reading.