Thomas Wolfe famously wrote, “You can’t go home again.” But I’m here to say, “Yes, you can.”
My circumstances are not quite as epic and tragic as those in Wolfe’s novel (which is about a writer who has fictionalized his hometown and neighbors, only to return home and face the consequences). But dear friends, I am going home again.
We made a mistake, pure and simple. When we decided to leave Chicago in the early months of the pandemic and move to southern Virginia, we got it all wrong. Maybe it made sense on paper—lower cost of living, warmer climate, what appeared to be a less stressful way of life—but it absolutely did not in our hearts. It took us a while to fully register how wrong this was for us. It took an emotional crisis, actually—or rather, a series of them, small and large, all precipitated or compounded by extreme isolation—before it hit my husband and I equally:
We made a mistake. We need to go home.
And so we are.
When I shared this decision on social media, the most frequent comment was, “How brave of you to admit you made a mistake.” I think this is sad, to be honest. Why is it brave to admit you are in a bad place (of your own doing) and you need to do a course-correction? My life has been a series of mistakes! It’s how I’ve responded to them, and what I’ve learned from them, that has shaped me not only as a human being, but as an artist.
I’m also proud that I’ve not lived a timid life that left me no room to make mistakes. You only learn when you take a chance. I’ve taken a lot of them, and I’m not through yet.
So in the next few days, the moving truck will roll up to the house in Williamsburg and pack everything up. The day after that, my husband and I will fly (with our two sedated kitties!) back home. To Sweet Home Chicago. I’m not going to detail the reasons why this area wasn’t a good fit for us, because it obviously is for a lot of very nice people. Suffice it to say, I missed the energy and personality of a big city. And I missed my friends and family even more. This is the move in which we downsize; I think most of us face that at one time or another. We bought a perfect little condo in a pre-war elevator building in one of Chicago’s most beautiful, vibrant neighborhoods. From the windows, if I turn one way I see Lake Michigan; if I turn the other, I see Wrigley Field. A perfect Chicago sandwich!
Once we are in the new place—cross-country moves are extra challenging; I’ll be spending several days alone with the cats in a hotel, while we wait for our furniture and my husband is away on a business trip—I’ll share photos. And I think I’ll be able to share news about my next novel sometime soon! I’m waiting for comments from my agent, and then I’ll send it to my editor, and then things will start happening.
One of the best things about moving back home is that my podcast partner-in-crime, Edward Kelsey Moore, and I can now record Who the Hell Are We? in person again! And don’t forget to follow me on social media to find out the very latest.
Life, if we’re lucky, is long, with multiple opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them.