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Updated: Apr 29, 2019

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Coming home has always been an ambivalent experience for me. It's my home, obviously. I know the house inside out, but I haven't lived here in over 20 years, so things have changed. So it's familiar and strange at the same time. When I would come home before, I used to feel like everything was smaller than I remembered. I no longer feel that way. I think it's because I've been visiting more often in the last couple of years.

It feels surreal, being here as a grown up. I know many of the people still, but some of the kids who grew up with me are now adults and have kids of their own. I can recognise which kid comes from which family but I don't know their names. I used to know all the kids' names around here. I also still half-expect my dad to walk in, which doesn't help with the feeling of surrealism. It breaks my heart a little bit every time I look up, and it's not him walking up to the house, and I remember it would never be him.

One of the reasons I've always felt ambivalent about my childhood home is that I didn't quite fit in here. It's a small agriculture-based community (not exactly a village but close enough), and when I grew up, everyone knew everyone. Everyone is in everyone's business. Sometimes it's a good thing. My kids, for instance, can go on their own to the big playground (it's not very big, just the biggest in the village) and even if they get lost someone will spot them and say, hey, you're so-and-so's grandkids, right? And then help them find their way (true story). When I was growing up, it sometimes manifested in random people telling me things like, it's no wonder you have no friends, you're always reading (also true story). I didn't fit in because I liked to read. In a farmers' community. I'm not saying all farmers don't like to read (my dad did), but this community is not marked by its people's love of the written word.

I even think one of the reasons I love living in London is because no one is in anyone's business. I can walk around for hours and never see anyone I know. And also Londoners don't tend to comment on other people's reading habits, at least not to their faces. In London, it's entirely reasonable for a person to sit at a bench and read.

Anyways. I'm home for a couple of days, on my own. Which is weird. But also nice, because I have time to read.


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