On Going Home Again

Why the long face? Find out...
Why the long face? Find out…

To Bee Honest…

“You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile, to escape to Europe and some foreign land, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing’s sake, back home to aestheticism, to one’s youthful idea of ‘the artist’ and the all-sufficiency of ‘art’ and ‘beauty’ and ‘love,’ back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country, to the cottage in Bermuda, away from all the strife and conflict of the world, back home to the father you have lost and have been looking for, back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time–back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.” Thomas Wolfe

Blogging again is certainly one version of homecoming. I’ve missed y’all. Fingers crossed I will write more in the coming weeks, Lord knows I have enough stories.

So a number (almost all) of my past blog posts document my move back to Nigeria from the States. If you have read my piece about global citizenship, you know I have a problem with identifying one specific place as “home” and more problems with feeling lost. If you haven’t read it here you go

Global Citizenship

Until this month I would say I identified three main places as home : Lagos, Nigeria; Atlanta, Georgia and now Amsterdam. After 3 years, mostly self-exile, I returned to the states and specifically Atlanta. From the moment I bought my ticket in March I could do nothing more than dream of my trip, like I was literally having dreams about it.

Now the trip has come and gone and I am left with an inescapable weight in my heart. The saying “you can’t go home again” has never felt so relevant. Atlanta is home no more. Friends have moved, changed, gotten married, made new friends, created memories without me and plans I cannot partake in. Babies I carried are now on their way to independence and I have become the aunty that has to be introduced with “she carried you when you were a baby”. In my church, a place I spent three days a week, I find myself desperately searching for familiar faces and the priest is one I do not know. I find myself overwhelmed by the choices in the grocery stores and irritated by the chatter of sales attendants who want to know “where’s your accent from?” I did not expect to barely tolerate foods I used to love or be so irritated at having to drive everywhere. I recognise that three years is a lot of time, but it also feels like I blinked and it’s summer of 2016.

Let’s not get things twisted, I had an AMAZING 3 weeks, my loves are still my loves and I can’t wait to be back and see everyone again,including many I missed on this trip. Unfortunately it will be as a visitor because Atlanta is no longer home. I will always love the city that I spent my young adulthood in and shall forever rep ATL. I just have to accept that in this phase of my life when I go to the states I shall simply be a tourist and there’s nothing wrong with that. I have a new home now, one that requires jackets and light sweaters in early June and makes me long for hot hot sun.

IOU

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9 Comments

  1. Love it! I cab relate
    I have not been back to ATL, although i would love to, but i keep thinking it will not be the same. It was great meeting and getting to know you while living in arlanta. You are awesome huge hugs

  2. Dami adetunji

    Ona, Ive missed you blogging.Welcome back. I have felt that way before regarding home but i think i am in a worse dilemma. In all the countries i have lived,i cant call anyone home anymore,i feel like a drifter..lol as i lose 5 years to every continent.Im working hard to make canada home as i seem to be a stranger everywhere else.i guess it is a phase of adulthood,i just never imagined my ‘home’ (Nigeria) would become so foreign to me.

    • tobeehon

      Thank you! In regards to being a drifter I swear I repeat “not all who wander are lost” about a zillion times to myself, you would think it’s a bible verse. Yup, at Nigeria feeling so foreign, although I think if you can brace yourself for and survive the initial realizations that all things have changed it can begin to feel like home again. Good Luck with Canada

  3. Nafisa Ishaku it really is startling, because in your head you know that you are not the same but somehow you expect that you will feel the same way about the city. Now, I am sure if life took me there again, I would fall back in love and find new friends that are family. Btw, I somehow kept forgetting to go back to Falafel king 🙁

    Thanks for the comment and reading!

  4. Dear UK,
    Welcome back! I really have missed your ‘tell it like it is’ blog posts.
    What is happening to you now can be summed up in one word- CHANGE. You have grown, people have grown, moving on is hard but necessary. I can still remember the times when I wanted to grow up so bad and do stuff for myself, I couldn’t wait! Now I am thinking that I wished it too soon as going back to those periods where I was so much at ease and comfortable, with less to think and worry about seems sooo appealing now. Life happens when you leave your comfort zone.

    Somehow, all you can do now is make wonderful memories of the new life, remember the old life with nostalgia and good chills running down your spine. As for the things and loves that haven’t changed, nourish them!

    By the way, come to Naija, that’s where the real homecoming awaits:) Our slogan here now is ‘change’ which should be ‘static’ if you ask me but then again, its home.

    Blog again!

    • tobeehon

      Thank you! Thank you! Change is definitely what’s happening but I guess like your story shows we don’t always quite expect everything that change will involve.

      Great advice! That is all we can do make new memories and remember the old fondly.

      Dear 9ja, my creativity flourished like nothing else there, everyday was a story. Coming back will happen but unfortunately (maybe fortunately) not right now. Good luck with the “static change”.

  5. Wow, this piece is for me! Im in the process of deciding where to live after residency and like you I think of Atlanta as home and have been longing to go back to Publix, the Mexican market, Falafel king, Lennox mall and on and on
    BUT you just gave me perspective, it is home no more. Many of our friends (who honestly were like family) are not there anymore. And so with clarity, I will also move on and leave Atlanta behind…

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