It’s always interesting when you go back home after a long time away from a place. My recent trip to the US was no different. For most of my month visit things felt familiar yet odd but not so much as to be unnerving. I would compare it to a dream where you are meeting all kin of people from several different times during your life, impossible in reality yet your mind feels fine with the collage of characters because somewhere deep down you know it’s just a dream and therefore it’s all ok.
For me, the people all seemed right. I was able to meet with so many old friends and all of them were perfectly set in the situations I had always associated with them. The same, yet better, as if they had all come into their own (which they all had) during my time away. It was amazing to see them all and to spend time with each and every one of them. I found myself wishing I had just a few more days so that I could catch up with a few more people.
What really seemed odd where the places. My hometown, where I was born and lived the first 22 years of my life had changed so much that it wasn’t the place I remembered. A massive new art museum in down town that looks like one of Frank Gerry’s undulating mass of shapes and contrasts so wonderfully with the traditional brink work of the original downtown market district. My university, where I spent the last four years of my time in the US before moving to China had grown so much that I got lost walking around campus. My brother and his family are living in a new house, which fits them so well, yet was new and unknown to me. Even my father’s house was different, with a new roof, new siding and a huge new front porch that made the place almost unrecognizable. All of these places took some warming up to but each seemed so right by the time I left.
Coming back to China, a place where I have lived very comfortably for the last 10 years, was harder this time than any of my previous trips home. I think that this is not only because of the wonderful time I had during the month rambling through the Blue Ridge region but also because I feel like I am missing out on a life that I have almost forgotten. It may be time, in a few years, to test the waters of a new adventure in our lives; one that will take us to a place with familiar names yet doesn’t look quite the way it used to.