You’ve probably heard the saying, “You can’t go home again.” A friend once said it to me when I expressed regret about leaving England 33 years ago, and I agreed.
When I moved to the states with my first husband, the deal we made was that I would go back to visit once a year. Of course, that didn’t happen, and I’ve only been back five times.
I had seriously considered moving back a couple of times, but it was too complicated and the reality was that I’d changed and where I’d lived had changed. Plus, I had family, a career, and friends here.
But why had he always felt so strongly the magnetic pull of home, why had he thought so much about it and remembered it with such blazing accuracy, if it did not matter, and if this little town, and the immortal hills around it, was not the only home he had on earth? He did not know. All that he knew was that the years flow by like water, and that one day men come home again. – Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again
After not having been back to England for 13 years, I recently visited my twin brother for a week. We were always close and have many of the same interests, so of course I miss him. He’s the only family I have left over there.
There were valid reasons for not getting back there more, such as moving, changing jobs, lack of vacation time, money, etc. But I think, in reality, I could’ve made it happen.
Some of it is that it’s not easy to go back, because it brings up painful memories, thoughts of what my life might’ve been like if I’d stayed, and comparisons with where I live now. Of course, the grass is always greener…
To me, the area of England where I’m from, the Cotswolds, is the most beautiful place on earth. It was untouched by the Industrial Revolution and looks much like it did hundreds of years ago. There are strict building codes that help it stay that way too. It’s miles and miles of gorgeous countryside and unspoiled villages.
The weather was warm and sunny, and because it was June, the countryside was in its full glory. The last two times I went back it was in March and April and therefore cold and dreary.
My brother and I exchanged old family photos and talked about the past. We visited a lot of our old haunts, including the town we grew up in and the house we lived in for 19 years (picture above), and nothing had really changed much. I also visited with some people I’d known for years and caught up with them.
We also visited the 11th-century church where my great grandfather was buried. My mother’s family were farmers in the area for many centuries and I always felt like I somehow belonged there.
It was hard not to think about what might’ve happened if I hadn’t left and feel regret at times.
I was struck by how less complicated people’s lives seemed compared to mine, and it was tempting to imagine what it would be like to go back there to live. I love it there, and there’s so much to see and do.
Unfortunately, it’s really expensive to live in that area of England and I have my life here. If money wasn’t an obstacle, I would want to live there at least part of the year (preferably summer).
I’ve learned you can’t live in the past, because doing so is resisting reality and will only bring unhappiness.
Instead, I’ve decided it’s best to be grateful for everything I have and to also have something to look forward to–I’m going to prioritize getting back to visit an annual thing. And it doesn’t hurt to dream.
So yes, you CAN go home again (if you want to).