Home is where the heart is.
You can never go back home again.
I can attest to both.
Over the course of the last 20 years, we've moved quite a bit. Granted, some of those moves were within the same city, i.e. when we lived in Texas, we moved from an apartment to base housing and then to the first house we bought. When we left after 3.5 years, it was hard to say goodbye to the friends we had made but we were looking forward to a new adventure. Thankfully when we moved to Louisiana we lived in the same house the entire time. It was the longest we had stayed in one place since we graduated college. We made so many amazing friends throughout the course of those 5 years. We also were changed irrevocably when we finally became parents after struggling for over 7 years to start a family. Leaving was extremely hard; neither of us were impressed with the prospect of Nebraska.
I knew absolutely nothing about the Midwest and found myself constantly comparing it to Louisiana. It took a while, but once again we were fortunate enough to make some amazing friends. It never really quite felt like it was "home" though. I'm sure that was in part due to the fact that we lived in 3 different houses over the course of our 7 years there too; base housing, the house we rented and the house we bought. It occurred to me tonight though that it also had a lot to do with the fact that I was afraid of opening myself up; that doing so would have been like cheating on the friends we had left behind. I was afraid that if I let too many people in or became too close with them that it would be like forgetting or replacing all those we loved from our time in Louisiana.
Now that we're back in Louisiana, it doesn't quite feel like "home" anymore either. It's not the same place it was back then and we aren't the same people. I considered this my second home for so long and I have SO many memories of our close friends that we met while here the first time, all of which we now consider family. Many of them moved either shortly before or after we did though. We've made some new friends in the short time we've been back but one of them is already moving this summer which totally sucks! I find myself missing our friends in Nebraska too, who also became more like family to us, and I fear I'm once again holding back from forming new close friendships It is so hard to feel like you're "home" when you're either constantly leaving those you love behind or being left behind by them.
I'd like to say that Louisiana will become our permanent "home" but there's no guarantee and we'll likely be moving again in a few years. Once again, we'll be leaving behind those we love and having to start over in a new town and open ourselves up for new friendships. Yes, home is where the heart is but it's not that simple when your heart is scattered all over the country/world.