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The Leaving Journal

On Returning

USA | Tuesday, 18 February 2014 | Views [167]

There is a lot to be said for returning to a place where you left pieces of yourself. It's as if you arrive to a home that you didn't realize was yours until you sank into it, like the plush softness of a worn sofa. Amy, a dear friend from Sitges, hosted my dad and me for our last three nights in Spain. Staying with her was like exhaling a breath I didn't know I was holding in my chest. I felt a sense of comfort I didn't realize I was missing - laughing with her over wine and the hilarity of British dating game shows, passing a day on the couch reading my book with no one to encourage me to get out there and "see the city," standing in the kitchen eating cereal in a t-shirt and socks. The many comforts that come from being around a person you know and trust, having a sense of privacy, released from the pressure of exploration because you already know this place so well. In returning to a place, you learn the way in which it was your home. You reintroduce yourself to the parts of you that were left behind there. You embrace the people who hold those parts of you.

Again I experienced the sensation of revisiting, in New York City, with my friend Brandi - one of those friends with whom the details don't matter, years pass unnoticed and you suddenly find yourself on the couch in her cluttered, cozy, Wash Heights apartment scarfing Thai food and babbling like you're 13 again. Where Amy holds so much of my adult growth and revelatory self-indulgence from my time in Sitges, Brandi holds my imaginative, colorful childhood, the bright-eyed little girl in me who never stop believing in magic.

I am nothing less than astounded at the hospitality of my friends, old and new, throughout the past several months: an arms-open, selfless hospitality that deflates my use of the word friend and seems much more akin to that of family. If one thing rings true of this journey, it is this: the people make the place.

As the wheels of the plane shudder down on the tarmac beneath a gray, Birmingham morning, I am returning to a place for a third time just this week. I have come full circle, one could say, although I don’t really feel like I’m back where I started but somewhere entirely new.

Tags: ending a trip, home, returning


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