Thomas Wolfe once wrote, "And at the end of it [self-appraisal] he knew, and with the knowledge came the definite sense of new direction toward which he had long been groping, that the dark ancestral cave, the womb from which mankind emerged into the light, forever pulls one back--but that you can't go home again. . . . You can't go back to your family, back home to your childhood . . . ." For years, I suspect some part of me thought that was true, as I neglected or perhaps avoided returning home to where most of my family still lives.
Now, having returned from a Christmas visit to the Seattle area to see family, I think perhaps I can go home again, at least to visit. My first visit in eight years went in many ways much better than I expected. Aside from a few awkward silences with my sister, I felt comfortable and welcome amongst these people to whom I had once been so close and from whom I had drifted so far away.
There were times when I felt a bit of a stranger in a strange land, especially when I saw all of the children who had grown up in my absence and who now had children of their own. But there were many more times when I felt as if almost no time had passed since my last visit; the conversation and the laughter flowed easily.
I suppose there were a few minor disappointments. Circumstances and logistics did not allow for much in-depth or heartfelt conversation; there were just too many people to see and too little time in which to see them. On the other hand, I found new areas of common ground where I did not know it existed.
In the end, I think perhaps a new foundation was laid and connections hopefully renewed. I once again have family. Not that they ever doubted it. And I did go home again.