We are going home to the U.K. today. We are going home, but we are also leaving home. It's a process I should be pretty used to by now, but it doesn't get any easier. I should be packing, but clearly I am putting off that task. Instead, I am trying to fight off the first pangs of homesickness that I always experience before I hop back on that plane, wishing I had just a few more days here (while knowing a few more days still wouldn't be enough) and already thinking of our next visit but unsure of exactly when that will be.
I have lived in the U.K. for over six years now, and while it has gotten easier to think of London as home and even identify myself a little bit with the English, I still refer to North Carolina as "home" by default. I wonder if that will ever change. Every time I leave the States after a visit, I go through a bit of a grieving process.
I don't exactly miss the home (or hometown, to be more accurate) I left. I miss the idea of home, the mythologized version I have created in my mind. I miss all of the things I took for granted when I lived here but would bore me to tears and make me feel trapped if I actually moved back. More than anything, I miss the comforts of my childhood home: the smell of my mom's pancakes in the morning, tucking Crumpet into my old bed at night with my old stuffed animals, and several other experiences and emotions that are hard to put into words. I suppose that's nostalgia more than it is homesickness, since what I really miss isn't a place I can visit but instead the moments in time when I was most happy. I guess Thomas Wolfe had it right: "you can't [really] go home again."
Eventually, once we have settled back into our usual routine, I will come out of my funk. With time and distance, I will readjust to my life in the U.K. and remember that "home" is wherever we are as a family. I will remind myself that we are doing our best to give our daugthers the best of both worlds (England and America) and, above all, a happy childhood filled with wonderful memories of their own.