“We shall not cease from exploration, and at the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T.S. Eliot
I wrote that quote down years ago on a Post-it Note and stuck it in my weekly planner. I had no immediate plans to move back home, but I always felt deep down that I would get back there – or close to it – at some point. I’d already been gone from Cleveland for a handful of years by then, and I had begun to notice that every time I went home to Cleveland, I fell more in love with it.
It’s a strange thing, to only begin appreciate the beauty of a place once you’re gone. I was barely 22 when I moved to Arizona, and I appreciated its beauty instantly. The mountains, the red rocks, the clear blue skies, the bright desert flowers … there is no denying Arizona is breathtaking.
But having grown up in Cleveland, all I saw around me was a grey sky; all I felt was a bitter cold wind. When I left, I had an unfairly negative view.
But after 8-1/2 years away, I pine for a Cleveland full of fall color, for white snow dusting bare tree branches. I dream of the street where my parents live, the old trees forming a high canopy of green over the road in the summer.
The green … it’s so green. A rich, luscious, lovely green.
I never saw that green during the 22 years I lived there. It was there, I just didn’t see it. I see it, I appreciate it now.
Leaving Ohio is the best decision I ever made. It launched my career, it introduced me to my husband, it is the reason my son exists. I will always be grateful that I chose to go. But when we move back East (in 9 weeks or less!), we will arrive with an appreciation for the things we’ve been missing. For the character of old homes, for cities rich in history. For changing seasons, for neighborhoods with a truly suburban feel.
Our Arizona exploration is ending. We are about to arrive where we started. And we will truly know the place for the first time.