Can you go home again?


us. yesterday. home?

Good gosh Ive dragged all of you through all of this with me.

And yet here I am back the beginning of my book again.

Visiting (literally), rereading (metaphorically) and perplexed (in every sense of the word).

Now that I’m back in my old resistance training stomping grounds I’m uncertain if it is, in fact, possible.

I question if we (the royal. I’m dragging you in.) can go home again or if we grow & change & shift so much with each move FORWARD going back becomes not just improbable but impossible?


(photo credit: Tornado 2013)

I love Austin. 

I miss being near family. 

There’s something to be said for Texas & its cost of living which leaves dollar bills left over for tutus and tattoos.

Yet still I wonder if there’s a reason the quote You can’t go home again has exhibited such staying power.

I’m a vastly different person from the one who came to Oakland 20 months ago.

It really surprises me—so I’m sure it surprises those around me as well.

And that new different self? I brought her back to the ATX!

For a few more days I’m hanging here and pondering.

I am of now I’m undecided.

Still experiencing.

Verdict to come.

So I turn to you.

In the most NON-rhetorical of ways I’m curious what you think and what your experiences are:

 Is it possible to go home again?



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  1. says

    I’ve never really left home. I’ve changed zip codes a few times but all with the same city as my mailing address.

  2. says

    I don’t think I could. Every time I go back to my hometown (my parents still live there) it feels less and less like the home I remembered.

  3. says

    When it’s time the home will either call you back or you will continue to fly elsewhere. Listen. Read Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul again. You’ll KNOW when it’s time to move or move home.

  4. says

    Yes I actually think you can. The beginning takes some adjusting but pretty quickly it is home sweet home. Of course we grow and change a lot and sometimes home does too, but those feelings, memories, fondnesses etc are a constant!

    • Paula says

      I recently tried this and it was hard.
      I agree it all boils down to expectation versus reality. I think my expectations were too high.

  5. says

    You can go anywhere you want.

    Forward. Backward. New places. Home.

    Adjusting to a new or a newly old place is just that: adjusting. No, it’s not going to be just like it was before you left… because YOU’RE not just like you were before you left. But anyplace can be home.

    I think a lot of the sense of displacement comes in with expectations. You have a memory (and remember, memory is selective) and want to have the experience of that memory when you go back home. But you’re seeing those same things… same places… same situations with new eyes.

  6. says

    I grew up in a little town (really little). And while there is part of me that loves that my family is there, my friends, and the cost of living…I don’t think I could go back. Where would I do yoga? There is no starbucks? And I have changed a lot since I left. I visit often – its only 2 hours away, but I don’t think I will ever live there again

  7. says

    SIGH. This so struck a chord. For us it’s time to leave ‘home’ and grow somewhere else. I often wonder if we’ll return.

  8. says

    Non – rhetorical…..Home is just the dwelling…..

    But from my heart……once you have grown and changed and shifted you change the inward landscape ….you will never be able to go back to that person you were… matter what your geographic location……

    “No place like home” rather than you can never go home again……might be a mantra for you in this moment….. You don’t have to choose….you can have both…. xoxo

  9. says

    Sure, you can go home again, but it’s never the same. It’s kind of like that old saying…you can’t step into the same river twice (because it’s always moving).

    It’s funny because where I live now is where I’ve lived the longest. My home is with Tim and always will be.

    And where we live physically right now is also where I’ve lived the longest. There is no family homestead to which to return. My broken (and I don’t say that to elicit pity or sympathy) FOO (family of origin) has scattered and moved many times over.

  10. says

    Oh – I think that it would be just as different as it was the first time – a new beginning in a familiar place!!!
    After living in Kansas for 15 years with at least 5 more, I know that even if we returned to TX and the area we used to live it wouldn’t be the same.

  11. says

    I am with Kate.. I think as a person you may have changed but it comes down to what you really want for you & your life. Just like when you moved to Oakland, it may take adjusting BUT it always comes down to what is best for you & the family….

    I do think it is possible to move back to places but we have to leave expectations behind… and build new forward motions…

  12. says

    I struggle with this two or three times a year as I’m more lately drawn back Home.

    And I realize that I’m not drawn to the place but to the people. I want to be near the people who live in a specific place.

    The people are my home, the place is just a city.

    • says

      I agree! Now that my parents are older, I feel a need to be closer to them – especially since I now live several states away.. However, they are the only reason I would consider moving closer to my old home. There is nothing else I like about the area!

  13. Elizabeth says

    I think nostalgia wipes away the blood, sweat and tears, leaving only the brightness of the memory. It doesn’t mean that the memories aren’t true, but whenever I’ve gone back to a place that had been “home” at some time, it doesn’t seem quite right. I love seeing how things change, but, every visit back, I think the thing that has changed the most is me.

  14. says

    In my world, no. You cannot go back home again. I am from L.A. I spent my formative years in Hollywood. My neighborhood is now an ultra hipster location and I have been sneered at with imaginary velvet ropes for stepping there. I have not been back to that hood in over 7 years even when I visit L.A. It is just not there. Experiences happen, you have to keep going forward with peace in your heart and a balance in your mind to make a home anywhere. I have over a dozen homes I cannot return to and luckily my favorite one is the one I have in the present.

  15. says

    You can physically return to the place, but both it and you are different. So ‘you cannot return to the place you left.

    Would I want to? No. Last time I returned, it struck me how non-diverse things were.

  16. Jessica says

    I don’t think I could ever move back. I have changed too much since we have moved to DFW. Louisiana(Duck Dynasty city) is just too small and not me any longer.

  17. Marste says

    Wow, this is timely. I’m actually in the process of moving back to my hometown right now: life change, career change, whole sea-change. (I can’t comment on Facebook, because some folks on my Friend list don’t know yet, and I won’t share there for a while. So this is a long comment! 😉 )

    I live close enough to where I grew up that I can (and do) go see family regularly, but it’s been different the last few months to re-see the place with an eye toward moving/staying there. Some things are different – the small town is now a small-to-medium suburb and growing – and some things, like the places where I had my first job, first date, etc., are the same.

    The idea of changing too much to move is interesting to me – I feel like I had to change *enough* to move back. I left thinking that I wanted a high-powered career in the entertainment industry, and I was lucky enough to get what I wanted – or more accurately, to be on the track toward it. If I stayed where I am, in 10 years or so I’d have everything younger-me wanted. And I’ve realized since being here and having everything I *thought* I wanted, that it isn’t what I want at all. I’ve learned that the higher the glamour quotient in a job, the higher the stress and the more of one’s life it demands. (Seriously, actors can keep their million-dollar salaries. That job is much, MUCH harder than it appears.)

    I had to realize that what I really want isn’t glamour – I want a back yard, and a place for the dog to run. I’d like some free time and clean, smog-free air. I’d like to have the time to actually HAVE a life, and to live in a place where other people prefer the same things. (Note I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with a high-powered glamour-job. It’s just not for me.)

    I’m moving back to where I grew up, because I can have those things, and the area is as affordable as Southern California gets. I’m going home again – but the “me” that’s going home isn’t the same “me” that left. So does that mean I’m really going home again . . . or not, except in the most literal sense?

  18. says

    I would think it depends on attitudes & expectations…People change, places change, perspectives change; if you go back it may feel different (though in the grand scheme of things, you have not been gone all that long).

    Husband and I both come from the same area, and we often talk about whether we would go back there. I always answer with a resounding YES! Husband is not so sure. It is unlikely to happen before retirement, as there are no jobs there for us. It would mean returning to a small town and giving up a lot of the conveniences we are used to here. For me the trade offs would be worth it; I live in a small city now, and it we have it pretty good, but the country girl in me has never stopped yearning to go back.

    I guess you have to figure out what is important for you to have? There will be losses, gains, and change all over again – is it worth it?

  19. Janis says

    I’m originally from Philadelphia and now live in southern California. I love my hometown, but as long as August and February exist, then no. It is emphatically NOT possible to go home again — although I love to visit. :-)

  20. says

    I moved around enough growing up (not like a military kid or anything) that I don’t really have a “hometown.” I spent 6th-12th grade in one town. Population 120. I went to school in a neighboring town. There were 23 people in my graduating class (including the foreign exchange students who must have really, really regretted getting stuck in middle-of-nowhere South Dakota). My parents moved right after I graduated.

    There is nothing about that town that is home. Even South Dakota is barely home. I haven’t lived there since 1999 and can’t imagine going back. (I love you west coast!)

    I was never comfortable there and have changed so much in the intervening 15 (seriously 15 years since I graduated from college? Holy hell.) years that even the parts of me that knew how to live there are gone.

    I like who I am now and although I’m starting to get a bit twitchy (I’ve been in Portland 8 years, longer than I’ve lived anywhere ever!), I never want to go back to anywhere I’ve been before. Moving onward and upward means not looking back (too much) for me.

  21. says

    When I left San Diego (the first place I chose to live as an adult on my own volition) for Austin, the only way I could leave is telling myself that it was temporary, and I’d get back as soon as possible. Texas was just to save some money and get experience. I didn’t really want to live there.

    Now, I love where I live, and have no plans on moving back (maybe if I had villa on the beach and a personal driver money, but y’know… and now I’d probably pick the other coast since the water is warmer). Not to say Austin will be forever, but it’s certainly more home now than anywhere else I’ve lived before.

    It is hard to go home again (unless you don’t really like where you live, I suppose…).

  22. says

    Josh and I never ever imagined living our life in the Midwest. We miss family, the ocean, and easy access to East Coast cities like crazy. It’s weird to us that people say pop instead of soda, roof like rut, and that we’re in a different time zone. It’s also weird to think that our kids will grow up in a completely different environment with completely different experiences than we did.

    At the same time I wouldn’t want to go home even if we could. I truly love my life here. Omaha has become home. There are things I miss about where we were but if we left Omaha there are way more things I’d miss about living here.

    This has been on my mind a lot lately. Great post!

  23. says

    Yes. I mean NO. I mean… I really don’t know. 😉

    We are considering relocating back to the midwest after living in California for 9 years. My family is back there. My husband’s family is NOT. All our children have been born in California and THIS life is the only one they know (midwest is a vacation and FUN for them… but not their every day normal life).

    Would I like being closer to family? yes.
    Would I like seeing old classmates while running around town? Unsure
    Would I miss the climate, weather, and sights of California? yes.
    Would we make new memories in the midwest? Definitely!

    Again. As always. Change is hard. No matter how we slice it.

    Life is one great big adventure. Embrace it. :)

  24. CARLA says

    and I giggle I’m so ready to embrace it—- I just wish so much if the decision wasn’t in a sense (no matter how small) up to me. it goes back to kids and how they are always eager to GROW UP and BE BIG without any awareness it’s easier sometimes when someone tells you what to do :-)
    Then you merely embrace it and BLOOM in the new place you’re planted!

  25. says

    I’ve been doing some retirement dreaming as it is time to either decide my house is my final home and it has to be renovated or I will move at retirement so just keep the place patched up for the next owner. Many of my friends are in the same place so we bicker back and forth as we want to take each other with us and have all of our toys and live cheaply and, and , and… The husbands have no say apparently.

  26. says

    I think both yes and no — I moved home after 7+ yrs living in NYC — it was great to be back near my parents and brother (especially with a newborn in tow) but it was so very different…not at all the “homecoming” I had imagined. It’s all worked out just fine in the end, but things didn’t start to click until I let go of some of my expectations and realized I was never going to quite be the same person others expected me to be. Does that make sense?

  27. says

    I don’t think that home is ever the same once you have left. For me – I know that to be true. Even if the places and people are the same, you are not, making you feel home differently. (For me, again, that is!)

  28. says

    Oh this is a super interesting post, Carla… First of all, I’m so glad you guys are back and enjoying family and “home!” Isn’t it odd when home doesn’t exactly feel like “home” anymore? There are so many things that change – you, the people back at home, the feel of your new home, so many not-shared-events and memories… I’m not sure if you can ever “go home.” While going back to the Bay Area sure feels in some ways like home, it doesn’t fully feel the same anymore, but I’m okay with that. I like when coming back to Calgary after a trip feels like home. At first that made me sad, and now it makes me happy. Going back to CA is, for me, going home to family, not home. They are the ones that count. :) Enjoy your trip!

  29. says

    Carla, That picture was taken at the Trader Joe’s in Austin where my daughter, Kailey, works! She moved across the country a year ago to help open that store. Shortly after she moved there- when she was really missing “home” I sent her a painting of the state of Texas that had a big red heart where Austin is located- with the caption, “Home is Where Kailey is” If you only have one place you consider”home” you might never be able to channel Dr. Seuss – “Oh the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all.” Home is where Carla is.

  30. says

    You can always go back home. Years ago I left Denver to accept a job and experience life on the West Coast (San Diego). It never, NEVER felt like home, even though I met my husband and had my daughter there. After six years, I convinced my husband to go back to Denver and he fell in love with it. You can always go back home.

  31. says

    Sounds completely cheese, but for me, home is where my heart is. And my heart is with my daughter and husband. Where we are together is home.

  32. says

    Come back to TEXAS! I did go home after being away for over 10 years. I lasted 3 years back in NJ and needed the change. Even though my business was thriving and I was close to my family, the cost of living, the lack of social life, just was not working, so I had to leave again. The hardest part is not being close to family, BUT I believe my Mom will be close to me in Texas soon, so home is coming back to me! XOXO

  33. says

    Being only one month into the biggest move I’ve ever made-physically- I can honestly say that when friends from back therespeak of bringing me back home, even for a visit, I already just don’t think ofthe drizzle, mold,cold and dreary as being ‘home’. I am a sun girl and now I know for sure that home is where the sun is for me! Going back would steal away the essence that is truly me. I denied her long enough- no desire to go back, physically ormetaphorically!

  34. says

    In my case, since home is N’Awlins, the answer is a resounding yes. No one leaves, really, we take it with us, and yes, i know what it means to miss New Orleans. That’s why i didn’t move further than an hour drive away.

  35. says

    I say yes and no. I think at the end of the day, home is where the heart is. You need to spend time with family, but if going home hinders you from growing as a person, then maybe it’s not the best place for you.

    If you decide to stay, you can always visit home during the holidays. :)

  36. says

    I just read that Oakland is the second most unfriendly city in the country. If you guys left they might be the first!

    I’ve only had the feeling of being home in one city after living in several others. That’s why I stay here!

  37. says

    We have moved several times during our adult life, from the Plains, to the Midwest, and now the South. Each time was educational and transformative. We made each place our ‘home’ at the time, but now being away from some of our previous cities/residences, I would not call them home.

    “Home” is where you miss when you are gone.

    I feel “Home” in 3 ways presently –
    1) Home is where my husband and baby are at;
    2) Home is my hometown where my mom and dad still live;
    3) Home is the city where my husband and I met.