Coming Back To Where You Started Is Not The Same As Never Leaving

Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving

Photos: Shiyi Wu
Words: Rachel MacFarlane

I moved away from my hometown early, at 17. My teenage angst blinded the beauty of the place I had before me. Recently, I returned home simply to explore the place I had left behind. I drove past my old childhood house, a woman I didn’t know was raking leaves off the lawn. It was a place so familiar yet so unknown. I decided to explore the forest that the house backed on to. What was once a place full of adventure was now diminutive in scale, and unfamiliar. This was the site where epic stories unfolded between friends, and giant forts were haphazardly built. I wish I could get back the feelings of wonder. I now realize I should have spent more time bonding and appreciating this place.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” — Terry Pratchett

Many people simply have to leave their hometown for school or jobs. Often, there isn’t an option to move forward without leaving something behind. If you did leave, then during holiday visits you may find little bits of yourself firing up again. You’re reigniting an old flame. A past love for this town that got away. If you’re still living in your town I encourage you to seek out and explore, connect with your friends, family and community. Because before you know it you’ll be trying to get those memories back.

When we fantasize about taking holidays or time off we picture a beach, or a museum in another country. What we might overlook is how returning to a place, not out of obligation but out of curiosity and devotion might be as impactful as exploring a new location. If you’re living in your hometown, I imagine it’s hard to carve away the time to do leisure activities that allow you to bond with it. Consider a ‘staycation’. Instead of spending a thousand dollars on hotels and flights, treat your home as a place for adventure and discovery. When we visit a new place we frequently do weeks of research to make an itinerary. However, we rarely give our hometown this much consideration. Treat yours as a place full of unique experiences and you’ll build an everlasting relationship with your hometown.

Consider the city you grew up in as if it’s a special heirloom that was passed down. You thought it was just a vintage piece of junk. But one day you realize you miss the person who gave it to you. What was that heirloom anyways? You decide to spend some time taking the tarnish off its grey dull surface. It took some work but eventually it revealed the most luminescent metal. How could you have been overlooking such elegant beauty all this time?

Like the heirloom with a little effort unearthing the special details and people of the place you came from can reveal its overlooked beauty. If you have disconnected with your home it’s possible and important to bond once again with the place. It can resurface happy memories and let you reflect on who you are. Most importantly this place is the embodiment of your roots, it’s important to know what those are and what’s spectacular about them. Never take your roots for granted.