Recovering from the crash of homecoming was like a big, deep breath taken over a few weeks, then slowly exhaled over a few more. Writing about that time now is hard because it has become hazy in my mind, but here are the things I remember for sure and know to be true.
When you're sad, say yes to an adventure. If possible, spend the time with people who have known you for a long, long time and love you as though they saw you last week, even though it's been 5+ years and you've all been too wrapped up in your own lives to make plans that stick. Never mind that part, just meet them at the beachfront fried fish restaurant and wait for things to unfold. The food will be forgettable, but the friends will lift you up with their happy chatter and warm hugs. There will be no pressure, no hard questions, just an easy conversation.
After lunch, hop back in the car and caravan to a place you've always meant to visit, but never made the time for. Stick your feet in a saltwater pool, relax on a bench and indulge in idle conversation, paddle around a small pond full of lilies with someone you haven't seen in forever. Accept every hug, every smile, every expression of joy as the gift it is meant to be. This is the best part of your life: friends and adventures and home, all rolled into one beautiful afternoon.
Breathe this in, and out, and in, and out. Feel warmth return to your body, feel some semblance of wholeness come back to you. Understand that this is both a beginning and an end, taken in the best possible company, on the coast of Maine, which is once again home.