After a little over 17 years away, I recently made a trip back to the city I grew up in. The trip was primarily to attend my niece’s wedding and (finally) catch up with family, who I had not seen (other than online and in photos) for those 17 years.
It was a journey filled with a lot of mixed emotions. Good to finally see all my family again, bad because so much had changed, and it’s not like the place was filled with happy memories, some great ones but a lot of not-so-great ones too. I guess wandering down memory lane was never meant to be an effortless trip. Plus, there was the inevitable point of saying goodbye to everyone (again) when it came time to head back to my new home (and country). Then there was the inevitable multi-day travel binge to face. Oh, how I wish to not be in an airport or stuck on an airplane again for some time!
Odd Feelings Arose
Being back in my childhood home triggered some weird feelings. It seemed so small to me; I felt like a giant. And it’s not like I’ve physically grown any since I left, but it was a peculiar sensation all the same. It was also a little weird to find so much of my old stuff was still there, pretty much where I had left it all those years ago. Items such as an old camera, a leather jacket, books, ornaments; all still there in the house.
Another thing that seemed so small to me on this return trip was the streets and roads. I guess I’m so used to the US roads and streets, with the vast expanse of tarmac and space for big American cars and trucks. In comparison, the streets were overcrowded with vehicles, both parked and those squeezing past all the parked cars. I certainly felt sorry for the bus drivers who had the unenviable task of trying to maneuver around them all. And it’s not like Plymouth is that big or crowded of a city, but it was a lot more crowded than I remember.
Christmas in the UK
One thing that was a nice change was the difference between the US and the UK as to Christmas. It felt a lot less commercialized or “in your face.” Yes, there were decorations around, but there was a different atmosphere. Another was the fact that Plymouth is a lot more pedestrian-friendly; in fact, the entire country is more pedestrian-friendly than the US. It was a refreshing change not having to drive everywhere; and that there were small, local shops within a short walking distance of the house. Back “home” in the US, I have to drive to get anywhere, even to the local shops.
All things considered, though, it was a great trip, and I’m happy to be back home in the US. A little sad to have to say goodbye to family there, but the US is (now) home. And I certainly don’t intend to wait another 17 years before revisiting them.
Originally published December 25, 2017