Vacation stories, part two

That's right, part two. All these weeks later. After we went to the beach, Nora and I drove to Chapel Hill where we spent a week. J had to fly back up to New Haven to work, but he came back and joined us that next weekend for a friend's wedding. I'd been sort of dreading this Chapel Hill trip. I know that sounds crazy, but let me explain. I loved living there for all those years that we did. We had great friends there, and great weather, and really great carport parties. And, you know, we left because J got a post doc at Yale, not because we were sick and tired of living the easy life down south. I cried like crazy while driving down 15-501 after we'd packed up the moving van and headed out. An especially emotional time as it directly followed the Cardboard Incident of 2007.

So why was I dreading this extra week of vacation, when I would see a bunch of old friends and rejoice in visiting my old stomping grounds? Precisely because we loved it there so much. I was honestly worried that going back would set off an intense nostalgia binge and I'd return from the trip horribly depressed about the fact that we don't live in North Carolina anymore. I was so afraid of this feeling that I was actually nervous about going to Chapel Hill.

Well, as you might guess, once I got to town and settled in with our wonderful friends Mike and Jess, who'd so kindly offered to host us for the week, all my concerns melted into thin air. I loved being back and I loved taking Nora to my favorite spots, and introducing her to all the people I used to know. She met people I used to work with. We had drinks with people I used to drink with and, amazingly, having a toddler along seemed totally natural. Every day was sunny. Nora met my friend Karla and her triplets. We were having the best time. GOD CHAPEL HILL IS AWESOME, I thought. And we are totally moving back. WE ARE MOVING BACK!

So I started telling everybody about how we were moving back although that statement had no basis in reality. Whatever, ha ha, it's happening, I thought. It's not like I was going insane or anything, I just loved being back in Chapel Hill, which strangely felt like more like home than New Haven. And I sincerely thought about how great it would be to live there again, with our friends and the quality grocery stores, forever and ever.

Believe me, after such a good time, I steeled myself against the return to Connecticut, fearing an even worse reentry period than I'd predicted. From sun-drenched fields and friendly banter with strangers to the land of 9 trillion Dunkin' Donuts and neverending winter? Come on! That's terrible!

We drove home, stopping quickly overnight in D.C. to split up the trip. When we got back I began unpacking and getting things in order after what seemed like months - not a couple weeks - away. I kind of enjoyed re-settling into our little house and talking about warmer weather plans, like starting our garden. But I figured once I got over the excitement of being back home and not living out of a suitcase, the sad times would set in. I'd cry just like I did on 15-501.

It never happened.

I loved being home again - home - and spending time with family and friends and going on playdates. I loved driving over the Q bridge in my less-than-awesome Hyundai Elantra. Going to breakfast at the diner. Starting the tomato plants. Walking along the water. Cleaning off the patio. Participating in my Mommy Bootcamps. Planting grass. Going to the Starbucks with the really nice baristas. Chatting with my neighbors. Returning to our Italian class. I swear to you, going back to Chapel Hill made me feel more at home in Connecticut than I have since we moved here. I don't know why and I don't really care.

The feeling is so good. Maybe we will move back to Chapel Hill one day, but I now realize that my life's happiness doesn't depend on where we end up. The point is that I didn't need to worry, I was much more settled than I thought I was here in the very happening city of New Haven. And furthermore, Dunkin' Donuts? I love that place.