It's true, you can't go home again

That's pretty common knowledge. In my 30 years, I've learned this the hard way. Going back to visit places I had once called a "home" always seemed to result in the same awkward and hurried meetings where nothing more than pleasantries were exchanged.

For example, when I was in college, I stopped back at my old high school to pick up my yearbook. I was received warmly, but it was clear life had moved on at the alma mater ... without me.

Since moving to Raleigh in late August, I have established a new home, and it was never more clear to me than during my visit "home" to Boston over Thanksgiving. It was my first return, and the city somehow seemed very different to me. It was distant. There wasn't the same connection with it I had once loved and cherished. I was now an outsider.

One of my colleagues here asked me about my trip this weekend. She, too, is a Yankee transplant, but by years rather than my mere three months. I told her, as I told a friend who asked by e-mail, the trip was strangely similar to a reacquaintance date with an old girlfriend. Not for the people. On the contrary, those bonds are still just as strong. It was clearly with the region.

Most have had at least one reacquaintance date. It's the one that follows some chance meeting in a mall or some other public place. Both exchange pleasantries, reminisce briefly about the "good times," and then someone gets the idea that it would be good to get together. Contact info is exchanged and eventually a date is set up. (This, of course, can happen between friends, too, but the former-lover scenario works better for this example.)

When the prearranged re-meeting comes, both are nervous and trying to put their best foot forward, just as if on a real first date, except in this case the stakes are higher because each knows the other's best. Things are usually a bit clumsy at first, and somewhere during the date one or both realize that whatever there was between them will never be again. They will part company for good this time, only to exchange pleasantries and quick life updates at the next chance meeting.

All that comes to mind in such an instance is the new colloquialism, "I am so over him."

I am so over Boston, and it's sad. I'm sad because of it. It was the only home I knew my whole life until three months ago, and if I never life another day there I wouldn't be upset. I feel like I owe her more than that, but I know that I don't. And that was reinforced on Sunday when I went to the Office Max about five minutes from my apartment down here.

I was talking to an associate about a computer chair and he mentioned something about the "ahms." I listened politely until he was done speaking but I didn't care anymore what came out of his mouth. I was dying to ask him where from in Massachusetts he moved. I had to wait because interrupting down here is a very rude thing. When he was done, I asked. He's from Natick. Just moved down this month. Same reasons as me. Tired of winter. Tired of traffic. Tired of the high cost of living. Tired of angry/self-important people who believe they set the rules in all instances. Guess what. He's only been here three weeks and he's not moving back either.

I should make a disclaimer here, and let it be very clear. I don't hate Boston. On the contrary. I love it for all that it is, and just as it is. But I can't live there anymore. I know that sounds like the contradictory dichotomy of, "I'm against the war, but I support the troops," but it's true. Now as a visitor, rather than resident, of Boston, I will have the benefit of a native's knowledge while there, and the outsider's knowledge that in a few days I will rest my head far away from Beantown. That is, of course, if my house sells.

Anyone looking for a three-bed Cape on a cul-de-sac in a residential neighborhood of Boston? It has a fenced back yard, front yard irrigation, granite counters and custom maple cabinets. Two full baths, including one with high-end Kohler fixtures and an extra deep soaking tub. The first floor has impeccable original 1941 hardwoods. Almost all rooms have crown molding, and there's a formal dining and living room. Oh, and a screened porch with a barbecue deck attached. This place is a perfect condo alternative with off-street parking. E-mail me at bostoncrazydriving[at]yahoo.com if interested.

The street also has three cops living on it, and has a nice mix of young families and retirees. Steps to Commuter Rail and Dunkin' Donuts. Short drive to 93 and 95 and downtown Boston.


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