I must admit, I was a bit skeptical about how it would feel to go home and see my family and friends for the first time since moving to London. I didn't let myself stress about it, but I was curious to find out.
I was on American soil for just 78 hours.
It was a short but wonderful trip; one where my body had no idea what time zone it was in, I devoured every single one of my favourite American foods, and spent time with all of my favourite people.
I don't know if anyone could ever accurately describe what it feels like to return home since everyone's experience is different. So I'll just talk about some of the realisations I had throughout the family dinners and wedding celebrations.
Here are 5 things you realise when you return home for the first time.
1. Home is exactly how you left it
Allentown will never change.
The Dunkin Donuts we’d walk to during summer break is still there, and the sausage egg and cheese sandwich on a plain bagel tastes the same as it did a decade ago.
AMC Theatres (now New Vision Theatres) can still be overrun with teenagers on a Friday night.
Applebee’s is in the same spot, where we’d go after opening night of our Spring high school musical, and where I’d meet high school friends for dinner during Thanksgiving break.
I can still jump the fence to get into the Versage’s yard if I just want to say hi.
Sure, new restaurants may pop up and shops might move locations, but the one thing you an rely on is that the spirit of home never changes.
2. Life goes on without you
This realisation happens in the little moments.
Like when your cousins have two new babies that you haven’t met and have only seen in pictures.
Or when your parents know that two of your friends got puppies because they met them when the girls were in town.
You realise that the world doesn’t stop turning just because you aren’t there. Your friends and family still go through milestones; you just aren’t close enough to experience those milestones with them.
3. Friendships, the good ones, don't skip a beat
For all of the disadvantages of technology and social media, it sure does help to minimise the impact moving abroad has on your friendships, even if just for a little bit.
When you see family and friends you’ve known for all (or most) of your life, you easily fall back into the same banter without skipping a beat.
Luckily for me, that’s what happened when I returned home for the first time. More than once I heard my friends say ‘It’s so weird, now that you’re here it feels like you never left!’ and I whole-heartedly agreed. That, in general, is the mark of true friendship.
Of course, I haven’t kept in touch with everyone since I moved. I’ve been disappointed by the lack of contact from some friends, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the amount I’ve heard from others.
Whether or not that’s because of the move to London, or because that’s the direction those various friendships were headed anyway, I’ll never know.
What I do know is that the ones who make an effort; the ones who you just fall right back into line with; those are your people. And you should hold them as close as possible.
Read More: 5 Ways to Maintain Long Distance Friendships
4. You’re living a completely different life
There will be a moment when you really realise how different your life is from everyone else’s.
For me, it was a little moment at the end of the wedding night when I was watching my three best friends with their husbands/fiancé. Looking at the six of them, I compared myself to them and I felt completely out of place. The girls have found their partners and I’ve yet to meet mine.
I am of course of the moon for them - what more could want for your best friends than for them to find people who make their lives shine?
Living on my own in London has meant that everything and everyone is new and exciting. Sure, I’m single, but I’m on my own and have no one’s life to compare mine to. There’s simply no need.
Still, I questioned my own motives, whether or not I made the right choice, and really what the hell I was even thinking moving to a different country. It was a fleeting feeling, but it happened.
Lucky for me, once I landed back in the UK I fell right back into the life I’ve made for myself here and that feeling no longer mattered.
5. "Home" is somewhere else now
if you’ve settled into your new city like I have, you realise that while where you grow up will always be ‘home’, your home is somewhere different.
Allentown will always be home, but London is where my home is now.
I never felt that way about D.C., even after living there for three years. I don’t think Laura did either. I’m not sure if that’s a product of being older and more intentional with my life and lifestyle, or if it’s because D.C. was never meant to be home, but somewhere we lived and existed for a little while.
Well London felt like home almost immediately.
I fell hard and I fell for quickly for this wonderful, bustling, and artistic city. I have an unhealthy obsession with my flat and I feel incredibly lucky that I wake up every morning in this city that I call home.
At the end of the day, I’m happy to have had a weekend at home with friends and family.
I didn’t need to go back, but I will always be grateful for the little extra time with the people who’ve shaped my life up until this point.
Even if it was only for a moment.