Being back home is funny. In some ways, I’ve replaced myself in my old context without any real difficulty. The streets are still where they used to be; the stores and restaurants I used to go to are mostly in the same places as ever, and I still know the city like the back of my hand. The map – the one in my head, labelled with things like “good pho” and “decent used books” and “grandmom’s apartment” instead of less personal landmarks – is still there. It doesn’t go away.
But it changes.
There are new buildings and new places. There are new babies in my neighbourhood and new mutations of Sprite (Remix), Coke (Vanilla), and Dr. Pepper (Disgusting Red) on store shelves. Neighbourhoods once marked on my map as being safe to walk through at night are no longer so. It rains more than I remember being normal for a Philadelphia summer, and is cooler.
I know that – I have my bedroom, and all my books, and my futon and my phone and my family to prove it. I can move around with complete ease here, can give directions to strangers. I can speak English – well, what passes for English in South Philly – and be relatively assured of an answer in same.
But it doesn’t feel quite like home anymore, and I can’t put my finger on why that is.
I’m not on hiatus; I’m just being lazy. Expect posts about Harbin, my girlfriand, and my harrowing return at some point in the future. I really do mean to write about them — but for now, there are so many people to see, and places to go, and things to eat.
Have a good summer.