It was the first time that I had returned home since I decided that I would return home after being away for the past decade. It was not as I expected. Now as I have mentioned before I have been back for short visits before, but each time before I had no plan to return for a more extended period.
Throughout my visit this time my thoughts began to think about the very real possibility that in six months I will be leaving the place that I have lived for the past ten years and I will be returning to the place I grew up. For the first time this thought scared me. For perhaps the first time I thought of Philadelphia as home and the place I grew up was something else. It was a place that was both familiar and strange. I remembered that I once lived there. I remembered that was once my home, but I was unsure if it would be again. The person that left all those years ago is not the same person that will return. It was as if I had the memories of someone else and I would be assuming their life, but would not ever be able to be them again.
I could not wait to get on the train in Boston and head back south. On the journey back there were moments I sat and started blankly at the world rushing by. I was lost. I found myself thinking that I might actually miss Philadelphia. I began to think of everything that has happened since I left home and moved down here. On the trip from the train station to my home I looked out the window of the car. Everything was familiar. I knew this city. I was comfortable in this city. I felt the contrast of this with the feeling of unfamiliarity I experienced while back home. I wondered if I was about to make a mistake. Now, in general I don’t think moving back to New England would be a mistake, but that doesn’t mean moving back into the house I grew up in wouldn’t be. I can’t help but see it as a set back or a near failure of sorts. I wonder where this all is going. I never imagined my life would turn out this way. There were so many other things I had once imagined that would have not brought me to this path. This was something I never considered. And while moving back may not be a failure in and of itself, it does sort of represent all of the failures that have brought me to this point.
As I drove though the streets of Philadelphia tonight another thought entered my mind. For so many years I often felt as if I was putting various aspects of my life on hold while living in this city. I always had this feeling that if I remained here I went wrong somewhere. I didn’t want to get attached. In some ways I was waiting to live my life. But what I failed to realize or appreciate was that I was living my life. It wasn’t on hold. I was just making excuses for things. Looking back, so much has happened and my life is such that I fear returning to the home of my youth would mean giving up all or at least most of what I have become. I fear that I will be taking a step back and putting everything on hold. I fear that my life will change and not for the better.