We spent the past weekend in my hometown near Cleveland, Ohio, and it was one of the best weekends that I have spent there in the last few visits. Going back home usually brings a lot of anxiety; issues about my mom that I have not dealt with come flooding back to the surface as I walk through our old house, visit her grave site, and visit places that bring back memories from childhood. Before leaving for our trip, I told my husband I was having a hard time. Sometimes the anticipation of a potential trigger is enough to send me into an emotional tide pool of anxiety and panic. Her presence is sensed everywhere that I go when being home, and while it used to overwhelm me, this visit was different. It felt calming and comforting to be home this weekend.
I guess I did not realize how homesick I had been feeling for the last several months until I was home again. All of the anxiety, panic, and grief that I had been struggling with all seemed to subside as soon as the plane touched the ground. Seeing all of our old stomping grounds, knowing the streets as if I had driven them yesterday, and seeing all of our old friends and family made me feel like this is where we belonged.
Maybe it was the weather – Cleveland’s winters are notorious for being absolutely terrible, and I mostly blame the weather for high-tailing it out of the city – but the summers and falls are beautiful. This past weekend, the temperature was high-70’s, with a cool breeze lifting away the humidity. In the fall, you can wear boots and cozy chunky sweaters, with temperatures usually falling to the 50’s and 60’s. The cooler temperatures help bring out the beautiful fall foliage, and it is truly a sight to behold.
Maybe it was the friends we visited – my husband had his 10-year residency reunion in Cleveland, which was the whole reason to visit in the first place. My husband and I met during his residency, and then spent the next three years together while he finished fellowship in Cleveland before heading to Nashville. The friends that we spent the most time with were ones from his residency, and that time in our lives were some of the best moments we spent together. Unfortunately, after fellowship was completed, there were no job prospects within the city, so we had to move elsewhere. He and so many fellow residents were in the same position, so we all dispersed across the country. Some moved closer to their families; others (like us) moved towards exciting career opportunities.
Maybe it was seeing my dad happy again. We did not have a chance to visit with his girlfriend this past weekend as she was out of town, but seeing him happy and in love was a confirmation to see that he is making the right decision about his future.
Whatever the reason or reasons for that wonderful weekend, I am so grateful. I feel grounded again and whole. It was refreshing to talk with my husband’s former resident friends and hear that they all missed the old days as well.
I have to keep reminding myself that even if we were given the opportunity to move back to Cleveland, the friends that we had are no longer there. While some still live there, the few that still remain have moved further away into suburbs and we would be spread out across the city. It is a heart-wrenching truth knowing that you can’t go home again. However, this weekend helped me gain perspective on our current situation. I will always miss home; it shaped the person that I am today. But I am grateful for the house in Nashville that we have made a home. I am grateful for the friends we have made here that feel more like family. And I am thankful for family that is able to travel to Tennessee to visit us frequently. No matter where we are meant to be, I am lucky to be going through this life together with my family.