We went back to New Jersey last week. Tim had a few days off in conjunction with Veterans Day and it was the perfect time to catch up with family and friends before Thanksgiving. Aside from a quick trip back to attend a funeral right after we moved to Long Island, we hadn’t been back yet.
It’s strange going back to a place that you once considered your home. A place that holds so many memories and a place you thought you’d spend the rest of your life. I purposely avoided using the term “going home” when I made our plans because we weren’t going “home”, Long Island is our home now and in a few years some place new will be our home.
The habits of the body and the muscles would disagree though. I drove down to New Jersey and the closer we got to my mom’s house, the more my muscle memory took over and I didn’t need to double check my turns and route like I do when I’m in Long Island. We drove past the house we own, the house we bought before we were married, brought our kids home to, lived in for seven years, to check on the landscaping before winter sets in. It was strange to drive past and peer at what is now someone else’s home. Sure we own it and I can describe for you every square inch and nuance of that house but there is another family living it and making it their own with an autumn themed wreath on the front door and window-clings in the shapes of falling leaves.
I always thought the saying “home is where the heart is” was trite. Everyone needs a home, a place to feel safe and comfortable, a place to develop a routine and let go. I took on the idea of active duty knowing that I would make this happen that I would make our home wherever we landed but I never gave it a thought as to what it would mean to leave the home we had already built. I have previously talked about how I fought against moving to New Jersey all those year ago how I wanted to be anywhere but there and while I’m not particularly attached to New Jersey, I am fond of the routine we had, the community we built around us, and the things we enjoyed.
Going home when it’s no longer home is like taking a trip down memory lane, you can retrace your steps but you can’t relive them.