No, not really.
That has to be the most-asked question on our trip to DC this past weekend, our first time back since we left in February, just 4 months ago. And that's probably why it wasn't weird. Connecticut Avenue is still under construction, they're just on a different lane. J managed to drive on the right side of the road for all but 5 seconds of the trip. Our condo looks absolutely fabulous and is being well cared for. Vace pizza is still delicious and greasy and still gives you a bellyache when you eat one (or three) too many slices. Nanny's has reopened and resurrected the Nannyburger, but I divorced them in my mind several months ago, so I don't even mind that what's on their menu is a FAKE.
Now ask if it was hard.
We attended the wedding of a dear friend, who was so beautiful that all I could muster in the few precious minutes one gets with a bride at her wedding was, "You're so pretty!" We laughed, we cried, we danced, and we saw the happy couple off as they dashed into their car through a cloud of bubbles. We decided they should quit their high-level jobs and go into vow-writing because they sure do know beautiful ways to say forever and ever, amen.
We spent time with grieving friends, hoping that offering our condolences in person and giving hugs could convey our sympathy, only to realize that there is little on this earth that can help them just now. We talked about the stupid things people say, then said some of them ourselves. We tried to offer an ear where we could and tissues as needed, and to at least be a distraction for a few hours. We gave quick hugs to avoid collapsing in tears together, and left feeling almost as helpless in person as we do from 3500 miles away.
We had dinner with our cooking club, which largely overlaps with our regular beach vacation crowd. We ate delicious food, caught up on gossip, and told silly stories. We dreamed of planning the next beach trip in Croatia. We played with the toddler, who's noticeably more chatty and adorable than she was just 4 months ago.
We've had a remarkably smooth go of it here in England. Deciding to come was hard, but the second we said it out loud it was Real and it was Right. Packing and moving was hard, but so's moving across the street. The plane flight in February was hard, but there was so much anticipation about what was to come that looking back wasn't an option.
It was at that dinner that I looked around the table at our friends sitting there, and thought of all the others that we visited with throughout the weekend. As I swallowed back tears, I fought the thought that I didn't want to get on that plane on Monday, that I want to stay stateside with the people we've grown to know over the last several years, with whom conversation is easy and natural. I thought about my good friends all over the U.S., and whether I'd see them in the next few years or whether I'll avoid it because seeing them for a few hours might be harder than not seeing them at all. All this and we didn't even see our families, save one niece (see previous reference to fabulous condo). We were remarkably not homesick before the trip, and I worried that our first trip back would only bring it on.
For once, I hate being right.
We think of each and every one of you often, the fun we've had, the storms we've weathered, the peace we have just knowing you're out there and we'll see you again soon. Heck, we'll even see some of you on our turf. We're having the adventures of our lives in England and know in our heads that it's an awesome opportunity and the right thing to do. I know that every time I walk out my door or think about the fact that 50 bucks and 2 or 3 hours gets me almost anywhere in Europe. It's just that sometimes our hearts disagree with that.
Sometimes, like now, it's hard.