The first home you make for yourself, will always hold a special place in your heart! It’s like your first love: you only remember the good times. The first look, the first kiss, the excitement and the thrill of it all. Rarely do people recall the breakup, the heartache, the moments where you think the world ends, because if that’s what a broken heart feels like, why would you want to go on, right? I feel the same way about my first car, which broke down in the middle of a road on a day where it hailed for nearly thirty minutes (no – not rain – hail!). I was stranded in the middle of nowhere, while the hood was smoking uncontrollably, and yet, it was my first sweet ride. My dark brown, smelly, piece of junk. Come to think of it, you could probably describe A’s and my first apartment very much the same way. It was a small apartment, the carpet was brown and the walls seemed brown, although they must have been white at some point. There were all kinds of creepy crawlers (no, not spiders, I’m cool with spiders, and no ants… scarier things!) and although A refuses to believe me, I’ve seen at least two mice in the apartment! But yet, it was a home that A and I made. A place that we called home, and although you couldn’t pay me any money in the world to move back in, it’s still our home.
So, naturally, when A and I visited the US this past week, we couldn’t resist and stopped by our old neighborhood. The second A parked the car, where he always used to park it, we both reverted back to the people we were nearly ten years ago, when we first lived in the neighborhood. I basically ran the streets up and down and greeted everyone and in good old American fashion, everyone smiled politely and greeted back (I kid you not! May have also helped that this was the day after Thanksgiving and everyone was probably sick of their families and really happy to be with strangers). When I say, that I reverted back, remember that we live in Norway now, and although I still smile at everyone and greet at least every child that doesn’t frown at me, I’m definitely less sociable now, than I ever was in the US.
This is my wonderful husband and me in our old neighborhood. Our apartment was directly above the blue sign on the right side of the picture. Both A and I agree, that if we were to move back to the east coast, we were most likely move somewhere close to this area. Not only for sentimental value, but also because you simply cannot beat that neighborhood. It has everything: neighborhood businesses which have been there for decades! Friendly neighbors, lots of food options and a homey-feel, after all, what more could you wish for?
But that’s also it, this time around, when we sat down in our most favorite diner for one last diner-breakfast before heading to good old Norway, I realized that the likelihood of us moving back to the US was very slim. See, a part of me always held on to the possibility to moving back to the US. After all, the US is unique and it holds a very special place in my heart, so knowing that we could always move back, if we wanted to, gave me some sense of false safety. I always thought, that the US was going to be my plan B for anything. But somehow, as we finished our diner coffee, I realized that I didn’t need a plan B, not anymore at least.
Life is funny that way. Sometimes, without realizing you hold on to an idea, like the idea that you will always be together with your high school sweetheart, or that your first car will last forever (regardless of safety) and that your first home will be your last home. And you allow yourself to cling to these moments, denying yourself to think of the bad memories. Up to now, I was only remembering the sugar-coated life that A and I shared in the US, never realizing, that the we merely existed while living in the suburbs of Philadelphia. What we take for granted in Norway, we couldn’t even dream of in the US (this already starts with access to drinking water).
So, as I finished the last sip of coffee in the diner where A and I had spend so many mornings together, I laid the idea to move back to the US to rest. Somehow, this idea had managed to hold me back for quite some time, making me afraid to commit to whatever grand opportunity may come my way. But it’s time, you know? It’s time to close old chapters entirely and being a new book. One where plan B doesn’t even exist. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that I have everything I ever wanted right here. Of course, there will always be things I complain about (the snow, mostly), but truth to be told, I am really living my dream.
As the end of this year is nearing, a new beginning is around the corner (at least symbolic), it’s important to let go of things that hold you back, let go of plan B and be okay with only having plan A. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know this much, it will be exciting, it will be thrilling and it will be much more than my first love – my first home – could ever give me.
Goodbye, Philadelphia, the concrete jungle where I found love. You are one of the grandest cities there have ever been, filled with love and compassion and anything in between. Riddled with fun memories, and madly talented people, which may spontaneously break out in opera in the middle of the night, as you are slowly making your way to the septa (the underground, in case you’re wondering). Philadelphia, you have been grand and I will always love you. Fear not, we will return, but for now, it’s time to move on.