I don’t know if we can ever really “return.”  I can go back somewhere that I’ve been before, but I don’t really return to that place because I’m not the same person I was when I was there last.

Eldest has “returned” home for several weeks after his first year of college.  Although he had been home a few times over the last year, this was different as he brought more than a backpack.

It is not just a visit, and yet it is because while he brought more than a backpack, his things have not found a home.  They are scattered in his room, living on the surface rather than returning to where they belong.  Where they used to belong.

In some ways, it is the same.  He has returned to his old room and to his place at the table.  He has returned to familiar rituals and family practice.  But he isn’t the same person who left.  And so while the same, he is different.  And his return is also a new arrival.

In the first days, he was home, it was fun to watch him try on the memories of when he lived here to see if they still fit.  We played Disney and Harry Potter Scene-It (games from childhood).  There were favorite meals to be eaten and not so favorite chores to do.  I could see him taking it all in, processing the familiarity, while at the same time reconfiguring its understanding with a year’s worth of distance and new experiences.

Returning is not really going back to where you were.  It is something old and something new at the same time.  It’s receiving the past as it was while also receiving the present as it is now.  May we honor and rejoice in both.

Through last year, the boys went to Grandma and Grandpa camp for a week.  When they were little, we often used this time to do home projects.  They would often return home looking for what had changed.   The same is true when you come home from college.
Returning is not really going back to where you were. It is something old and something new at the same time. It’s receiving the past as it was while also receiving the present as it is now. Click To Tweet


It’s Five Minute Friday: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write. You can read more about it here.

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6 Thoughts to “return”

  1. Your last words are so true. A great example of your son home from college. I can relate to that with our daughter. And after being away from this city for 14 years we returned – but we’re different and so is the city. Hopefully, we’ve honored them both.

  2. Interesting take on ‘return’.

    I find that as cancer gets worse, I’m doing some returning as well, to the persona I wore years ago, the hard and ruthless private military contractor (which is a polite way to say ‘mercenary’).

    But the hardness is turned inwards; to be gentle with myself is to court both a spiritual and physical death, because I live on a knife-edge above an abyss of despair. Slowing for self-care would cause a fall from which there would be no return, and the only stability is dynamic.

    I have to push to move, and movement is life.

    #1 at FMF this week.

    1. lifeinthelabyrinth

      Andrew, I hope you find some time to to be gentle with yourself internally. Even this requires great strength. May you be hard and ruthless with the disease but still find softness and grace in this battle. Peace – Michelle

  3. This is SO true! I first learned this after I’d moved away from my hometown as a married mom, and then moved back 7 years later… There was no going back. Later, as my son enlisted and went on deployment, his leave and returning home (stateside) gave me an all together different perspective…

  4. I also have a college student and you’ve nailed the re-entry – and it’s not just the student that has changed but my husband and I as well – we all kinda tip toe around each other in the first hour or so 😂

    1. lifeinthelabyrinth

      I think it’s amazing how once my kids got to high school that all of my memories came flooding back like they were yesterday (although I know it wasn’t!). I remember coming home from college and how it was the same and different.

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