“Where is home?” is a strange question for me to consider. While my default answer is Buffalo, NY, it was a twisted path to get there … and I really can’t consider it “home” anymore.
We moved around a bit when I was a kid, and by 3rd grade I was in my third elementary school — with parents who were, by this point, quite jaded about the whole moving and relocating experience. I was told repeatedly to prepare myself to move again, not to make too many connections or friends, as we would never stay in Buffalo for more than a year or two.
Flash forward nine years, and wouldn’t you know, I’m graduating from high school … in the same school district. By this point, I couldn’t WAIT to get the hell out of Buffalo. So off I went — however, with the expectation that Buffalo would always be “home,” and that my parents’ house (MY house) would be a place where I could return to over the years. But four or five years after I graduated from high school, my parents moved away from Buffalo and have relocated a number of times since. So when I get a question along the lines of, “Are you going home for the holidays?” my answer is always, “No, I’m visiting my parents.”
All of this is on my mind lately as next week, for the first time in eight years (and probably only the second time in 10 or more years), I will be returning to Buffalo. The thought of seeing the places where I grew up bring a number of mixed emotions. Maybe I am being a bit melodramatic, but this will be the first time since my brother’s suicide that I will see the home and revisit the once-familiar places where we grew up. I’m not sure if it will bring a sense of happiness, sadness or somewhere in between. We shall see.
But beyond the obvious, returning to a place that I called home for so long will remind me of so many dreams, fantasies, insecurities, joys, heartbreaks, learning experiences. Some wonderful memories, and some painful — and the harsh realization that my childhood was many, many years ago. You may be able to return “home” … but you can’t go back in time.
Frequently when I feel that something is missing from my life, it is that sense of home — I don’t mean the place where I currently live, but an old, familiar safe haven where I could go to escape and retreat for a while. A place to reflect, remember, and remind me no matter how down and out I am, that I will be okay and that things will be all right. I’m not sure if I will get that next week, but I hope that I can find it soon.