The phrase "you can't go home again" has long mystified me. What do you mean you can't go home again? Of course you can! You just save up, buy a plane ticket, pack your things...wait, wait, wait...get on a plane and then boom! You're home again. Doing all the at-home-things you used to do!
It wasn't until I spent a month vaporizing my life at home, then four months living seven thousand miles away that I realized...ohhh. Yeah. You can't go home again. Physically, yes. You can put your body in that exact same city...maybe even in the home you grew up in. But you can never again recreate the person you were or the exact bubble you lived in before you left. There will always be this nostalgic haze that hangs around the days you can't get back.
My mind is tumbling with complicated, excited and jumbled thoughts as I clumsily, sleepily pack for my midnight flight back home to Wisconsin. There's just one thing that keeps snagging up my excitement over flying back to the US to reunite with family + friends. And here it is:
I am a binge eater. Not the comedic binge eater who calls herself a binge eater because once she ate an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's after a bad break-up. (Although, yes. Done it.) But a diagnosed, by-the-books binge eater. (More here.) Back home, I had a grasp on it. I was so mindful of what came into my house. When I felt myself losing control, I'd go for a long walk or bike ride... I had a system. And it worked! But here...my new life...I'd liken to putting an alcoholic in a liquor store and asking them to stay sober. I am home, alone, all day. Being in your house, with food ten feet away 24/7 is exhausting. It's a binge-eater's nightmare, and a battle I fight no less than seventeen times a day. And many times I've lost that battle...I've stood there eating boredom, loneliness and homesickness. It's embarrassing to admit that you lack the self-control to walk away from an entire loaf of bread...even when Gabe and I talk about it, I can't help but cover my face and cry hot, humilated tears. Your mind grasps that you shouldn't stand in the kitchen and eat four bowls of oatmeal until your tummy explodes, but something just takes you over. And you do. And then there is shame. So, so much shame that you can't just get your crap together and be normal like everyone else.
And as math and science would have it...I've gained weight. Two pants sizes of weight in four months.
It's silly, but I'm afraid to go back home. Afraid that I don't look the same. Afraid to go shopping or see old friends who will think, "WHOA. Beth got married and reeeallly let herself go. Yikes." And I know. No one I actually respect and love will think that. They know I struggle with deep-rooted causes of this problem....and that I do indeed fight. Instead, the people I love will think, "I can't believe you're home! And you're living the Middle East. WHOA, girl!"
Truly, my logical mind grasps that the opinion of those I love and trust is what really matters. That message is just delayed in getting to tiny part of my mind that controls the vast, chaotic space of my emotions.
So, I've promised myself I'll leave behind the size 6's and 8's that easily slipped over my thighs a few months ago...and along with them the sense that I'm not good enough, simply because my pants read 10 or 12. Instead, I'll pack up my suitcase with the few things that still fit my larger-frame, the smile I rarely cease to wear, and I'll return home again...to the people who have always loved me, regardless of my pants size.
In that way, I suppose, you can always go home again. :)