Back Home?



This year I’m not going back.

I was going to type ‘ back home’ but stopped short. Yes, the United States is my ‘home’ country. I’m lucky in that I’m able to state that clearly, without hemming or hawing or asking several qualifying questions.

I’ve come to learn that for some, it isn’t that easy. Everyone has a ‘birth’ country, most have a ‘passport’ country. Asking about one’s ‘home’ country can get tricky when someone has lived all over the world, and perhaps has also grown up globally as a first or second generation expat.

So I know that I’m fortunate in that I can say, without hesitation, that America is my birth/passport/home country.

But is it ‘home’? That’s a tougher question.

Husband and I grew up in different parts of the same state; do we think of either place as home? No, our parents moved away years ago, and we haven’t been back in ages. The places where we grew up may hold great memories and importance to us, but they are no longer home.

Ditto for where we each attended university. Nice, but no cigar.

We lived in a close-in suburb of Washington DC for twenty years. Our children were born there. Home? Now we’re getting closer.

Sometimes we talk about moving back there for many reasons: amazingly deep-rooted friendships, my brother’s family, great job opportunities for us. But it is always considered in temporary terms (‘Wouldn’t it be great if we went back for 5 years when both kids are in college…’).

Then we remember some of the reasons we moved away seven years ago (urban sprawl, traffic and housing congestion, a frenetic work pace).

We moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina and lived happily for five years. I went through ‘career detox’, and the entire family benefitted from a slower pace and more balanced lifestyle in a smaller university town amid an active research, business and arts corridor.

We spent a lot more time outside being active, put down roots and made great new friends. Everyone thrived. It was hard to leave. Very hard.

But when we chose to move overseas, we sold our home knowing we’d outgrown it. Renting wasn’t a great option, so there was no reason to entertain that. Several years of being away, and people living in ‘our’ house would change it. By the time (if?) we came back, Son and Daughter would be in university. We’d be looking to downsize and streamline.

We were fortunate to sell in a less-than-stellar real estate market that since has only gone downward, and is only slowly beginning to show signs of life.

Who knows where we will be in five years? Or three, or even one. While I’ve written that we’d like to stay to ensure Daughter gets through high school here (and we would), the honest answer is that no one knows.

North Carolina holds great allure, especially with Son attending university there beginning late next month. Daughter isn’t sure where she’d like to continue her schooling, but if it’s in the US, it would make it doubly attractive to be back there.

Home is, after all, where our family is. With half back in the US, it would be hard not to follow them. And yet…

There are pesky things like bills to be paid, and neither Husband nor I are anywhere near (dare I say it?) retirement age. Employement will be a factor in the decision, regardless whether it is with a new company, organization or becoming self-employed.

And we do talk of living other places abroad. So far it is only conjecture. No need for decisions until they become truly necessary.

I do not know what the future holds. But I do see us living back in the US at some point, if only part-time. As to exactly where and when, I cannot say.

Back home? Well, yes and no. 











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