I write a lot about home, both the one I come from and the one I've built, and part of me thinks I keep writing about it because I haven't quite captured how I feel about things yet. For me, it's hard to understand the divide between here and there, and now and then, and where everything overlaps and intersects. I'm still trying to figure out what it means to miss something old while loving something new. How do you describe that feeling? Optimistically nostalgic? Happily melancholy?
In any case, I found some words I've been looking for — someone else's words, that is. A writer named Renee Dale, in a Self essay called "Homeward Bound," perfectly describes all the awful, wonderful feelings that go along with returning to you childhood home, then coming back:
"Sometimes, going Back Home makes me feel understood; sometimes alienated, as if it no longer represents me at all. But this means it worked. This is the job of home: to teach you how to go out and make your own . . . My Back Home self still lives with me here, with her insecurities and melancholy, but she's accompanied by grown-up confidence and gratitude for just how lovely home can be. In this place, I can be who I was then, who I am now, and who I may yet become. This is home, at last."