Thomas Wolfe, that's who. And while I understand his sentiment, I have to say it was really good for me to go home this summer. First and foremost, the girls and I were able to reconnect with my family (and extended family), whom I don't see often enough. But a week spent at the beach was particularly perfect, and here's why -- I've been gone a long time. And while I didn't feel like I needed to relive any "youthful memories," as Wolfe wrote, I hoped I would remember what it was (if anything) that still connected me to my birthplace.
The South often gets a bad rap (and there are plenty of valid reasons, which I don't need to get into). I felt strongly about leaving and moving to New York City since I was old enough to understand it was a place filled with bright lights and excitement. A place where people from all over the world descended and blended together. Simply put, it was somewhere different, where I couldn't see my life perfectly planned out ahead of me, and that was exciting. As hard as it was to move away from family and friends after college (and boy did I cry at the airport), I always knew that I was making the right decision.
Our week at Edisto Beach (very close to where I grew up; my parents now live in GA) brought me full circle. So much of the "good stuff" came back: the smell of the salt air from the screened-in porch, the feel of the sand between my toes (not so much the jellyfish that stung my niece), the food -- oh, the food! -- seafood casserole, flounder sandwiches, potato salad, etc. Just ask my waistline. The laughter of my parents' friends, gathered around the table. The same friends who carted me to basketball games and chaperoned those awful middle school dances. The mystery of Spanish Moss (is there something romantic about it or is it just plain strange?). Old friends who I know I'll know and love for a lifetime, even if our lives aren't so intertwined as they once were. The sunsets, no filter needed.
Memories/accents/tastes/smells kept rolling in each day, as reliable as the afternoon tide in front of our house. And while I'm not sure relief at my renewed sense of place is the correct phrase, I do feel content. You CAN go home again. And I would encourage anyone to find out what it is that binds you to a place, whether it's where you were raised, where you live now or somewhere you visited once that you've never quite been able to shake. Because while NYC fits me like an old (yet shiny) glove, there will always be a little piece of me that belongs to where my journey first began.
Enjoy these last few days of summer, friends!