You Can Go Home Again

by Sylvie Fox

Thanks to Thomas Wolfe, the phrase, ‘you can’t go home again,’ is as ubiquitous as any number of other clichés.
For years, my husband and I have been searching for a place where we felt at home. We’ve debated going back to New York (where we both originate) several times over, but finally decided it wasn’t an option. We tried Cleveland, but it wasn’t for us.
Palo Alto and San Francisco were even serious contenders for a long time, until we gave up on them a dozen years ago. I live in Los Angeles, and though the weather is perfect. The driving is going to kill me slowly.
My mother-in-law always thought Boston suited my husband. My mother thought I should give Washington, D.C. greater consideration.
About ten years ago, after considering places as far flung as Sacramento and Denver, we decided to broaden our journey outside the United States. London, England and Edinburgh, Scotland were neck and neck for a while. Then my husband was in love with Portugal. Seoul was even in the running for a few months. We considered Paris for as long as it took to figure out we’d have to sell all of our kidneys to afford an apartment there.
Every place had it’s great points, but none gave us that elusive feeling we were looking for. Fast forward five years, and one child later. My husband had a work meeting in Prague. Looking at the map, we searched for somewhere else to go. With our plane tickets paid for, we wanted to get the most for sixteen hours of travel (with a two year old). The debate was between extending our trip to either Vienna or Budapest.
photo by Sylvie Fox
We chose Budapest because I wanted to see the Danube in person and we figured we’d never be there again. Five minutes outside of the train station, we looked at each other and knew, we’d found it. Home again.
I’m writing this post from our Budapest apartment. Every day I walk outside and it’s like taking a step back into my childhood. In so many ways, it’s all that I remember loving about growing up in New York City with the added beauty of Europe.
photo by Sylvie Fox
Yesterday, I was on my way to pick up my son from summer camp and walking down the street shaded by Plane and Chestnut trees transported me back for a long moment to similar walks in Brooklyn with my parents. Whenever I come to New York and drive over the bridge, I nearly cry with relief about being home. (Then I get out of the car, and I find that New York has moved on).
I get that feeling nearly every day I’m here. The streets smell like home. The people remind me of New Yorkers with gruff exteriors and warm hearts. And the food? Someone could have told me that what I considered New York diner and deli food was really central and eastern European food transported six thousand miles. Every time I go to the market, everything is so familiar I want to squeal with delight.
Despite Wolfe’s admonition, I think you can go home again as long as you look in the right place.
Sylvie Fox is the author of The Good Enough Husband. She’s also the author ofUnlikely and Impasse, the first two books in the sexy, contemporary L.A. Nights series. Don’t Judge Me, the first book in the Judgment series, releases this autumn. When she’s not battling traffic on the freeways of Los Angeles, she’s eating her way through Budapest.