Why Your Hometown Will Never Be The Same Once You Leave It

by Gigi Engle

Your hometown is rife with memory. It will always hold a place in your heart, one that's sticky with nostalgia. You love going home for the holidays to see your family and friends.

But somewhere in the middle of all this familiarity and joy sweeps an icy breeze of realization. The place that was once so perfect, warm and inviting -- the place that holds and protects all of your longings -- begins to feel like a dream.

“Round here, everybody's always talking about home,' said Balfour. 'Can't help think that the pleasure's in the missing.” ― Eleanor Catton, "The Luminaries"

We love where we come from. We adore home. But what we're truly missing is our idea of home, and not the real place.

Memories sustain our conception of home, and there's a bitter sweetness to recognizing that these memories will always live out of reach. There are no new ones to be made.

This realization is a moment of growth. It happens in every coming-of-age story, and we experience it when we venture into the outside world.

Only once we forge our own paths do we leave behind the trails we knew so well. Though it breaks our hearts to let go, we have no other option. Our hometown will never return to the place it was when we left.

Once you make your own life, you can’t settle for a life that was made for you.

When you venture into the world and away from the comfort of your parents' nest, you create a world that is all your own.

When you’re surrounded by what you know, all you're capable of doing is agreeing with your parents and going along for the ride.

After you’ve lived outside the den and made your own way, it’s impossible to stumble back into the old patterns that were once so easy to follow.

When you put on your old ways of living, you discover that they feel stifling instead of cozy.

Once you’re forced to make new friends, you realize you have nothing in common with the ones from home.

When you make friends away from home, you actively choose them. You must pursue and foster these friendships.

But the people in your new circle have everything in common with you. They share your interests, career goals and sense of humor.

When you return to your hometown and find yourself surrounded by the people you grew up with, it becomes painfully obvious that your history is all you have in common.

You share the same roots, but your branches spring in opposite directions.

Once you leave your family tribe, you become an outsider in your own home.

A strange feeling overtakes you when you return home after a long time away.

It's a feeling of poignant familiarity that's nonetheless just out of reach. Your old comforts seem to be covered by a film that gives you a noticeable, upsetting itch.

The moment you become accustomed to following your own rules, you can’t settle for anything short of complete and exquisite freedom.

You feel like a stranger in a place you once knew like the back of your hand. You used to fit in so well, but you've outgrown the home where you once rested your body and spirit.

Once you stop being homesick, you become nostalgic.

When homesickness lingers even after you return home, it turns into a strange sensation. We long for the feelings of contentment that we will never be able to replicate. It's what brings us home again and again.

You aren't longing for any physical place. You're longing for the memories that swim idly in your mind. You no longer feel overpowering homesickness; instead, it's become an intense nostalgia.

You’re homesick for a time, not a place. You're homesick for an era that has long since passed. You want something that you only remember -- something you can't hold or touch.

Once you venture out of your comfort zone, that comfort zone stops comforting you.

Once you cross your barriers, you can’t possibly go back and expect to find the same level of happiness and contentment.

If you scratch your wanderlust itch -- if you fly the coop and make your way somewhere else -- you can’t return. You won't be able to find your footing.

Your comfort zone breaks down once you stop enjoying it. The bubble loses its meaning. You feel stifled instead of protected.

At one time, your hometown may have been the definition of tranquility. But once you leave the nest, your town changes forever. Once you spread your wings, you’ll never be tied down again.

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