Friday, September 14, 2012

Can you ever go back?

Tomorrow I’m flying to England.

The bittersweet nature of this trip hit me last night as I was going through my jewelry box, trying to decide what to pack. I came across bits and pieces of earrings bought 11 years ago at Accessorize on Exeter’s High Street.  Even though none of the pairs match anymore I’ve never been able to throw them away.  They are my only tangible attachment to dinners at the Mill on the Exe, darts at the Jolly Porter, and Friday nights at the Souk.

Leaving Exeter after graduation was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I was saying goodbye to friends I loved, a city I loved, and a country full of a thousand possibilities I was passing up on just to come home.

In the time I’ve been away I’ve moved to new places and made new friends.  I’ve seen the world, married, adopted a dog, divorced.

This time when I go to Exeter it will be as an American tourist, not a resident of Sidwell Street.  If I walk on the university campus it will be as visitor, not a student.  If I drink in the restaurant/champagne bar where I once worked it will be as a customer, not a hostess at the end of my shift.  Everyone who used to work there with me is gone.  Moved on.

I’ve changed, and I know the place I once left behind has changed as well. Am I ready for it? Will it be as hard for me to leave this time, or will the life I’ve made for myself be enough to bring me home without regret?

I guess I'll know soon, because tomorrow I'm flying back to England. 

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