You Can’t Go Home Again

Thomas Wolfe was severely mistaken.

Of course you can go home. You just can’t expect it to be the way you remembered it. For better or for worse, you can go home with managed expectations.

A bit ago, I trekked home to Rhode Island for a parental Christmas gift. Of course, being the wonderful humans that they are, my parents wanted this homecoming to be a Jenna Trip, instead of an “Our Christmas Gift.” While I don’t go back to New England often (because of COVID and then the sheer bliss of waking up in your own bed at 11am on Christmas Day), this was a trip that I will not soon forget.

In no particular order:

  • My mom and I got to use my CVS Employee Discount. It’s the first time I’ve used it and I helped her choose an absolutely perfect lip stain;
  • My mom and I went to an antique jewelry shop and we got to try on jewelry and it was SPECTACULAR;
  • I got to see my “Dad’s side” cousins and aunt/uncle, which I am so thankful for. We always just pick up right where we left off. I really love them;
  • I got to see my Mom’s sisters and my Uncle, with whom we bonded over books and intellectual pursuits;
  • the freaking food: Real Am/Chinese, Northeast Italian, and home cooking;
  • I got to meet some of my parents’ new friends, and see some family friends that have really taken a good part in our lives;
  • Being able to meet a direct report and a mentee;
  • Seeing the people in CT that have been essential in my life since….2008?

In case you’ve not read prior to this, PIZZA is an art form in the Northeast. Which is to say that it’s freaking terrible where I live. I was blessed enough to meet five friends in New Haven, CT for a delicious lunch. Even better is that we got the best ones on the menu. Anywhere else, take note. See that char? THAT IS HOW PIZZA SHOULD BE COOKED!!!!!!!!!

I’ve worked remotely for the last 7 years, have been on multiple teams in various divisions, and switched companies. That means I’ve never met my coworkers in person. Now that I have direct reports, I figured it was kind of important to take the time to meet one of them. Big D is one of my favorite people ever, and he lives in the PVD. He introduced me to JT and she is my new mentee. We all met for lunch, and it was joyous and delicious. There is so much to be gained from breaking bread in person.

I’m used to exercising every day, so I felt the need to go for a little walk. There’s a wildlife refuge area near my parents’ house, and I decided to explore. Yes, it was getting dark. Yes, it was cold. Yes, I was alone. Yes, I was listening to a true crime podcast. Yes, I have listened to enough of them to scare me. It was totally fine until I got to the “oh this happened in a peaceful little town where it could NEVER happen, and since no one knew where she went walking, her body wasn’t found for weeks.” All that being said, I’m far more concerned about Native American hauntings in this area than a mass murderer. I couldn’t get close enough, but there is a big rock commemorating a massacre in the 1700s, and then I started to see faces in trees. Watching me. I figured enough is enough, and I hightailed it home. (Plus, my fingers were numb.)

If you can’t see the face, you’re lucky. You probably won’t be haunted.

If it weren’t for the pesky traveling part, I’d go home a lot more often. Flying is quite possibly one of the worst tortures known to man, especially if by “man” you mean a tiny Asian girl for whom personal space becomes an option on a crowded plane. Just because I don’t take up the whole seat doesn’t mean you get the leftover space! Otherwise, you totally CAN go home again, and you should.