During this time of Rosh Hashanah and reflection, I find myself back in my childhood home in the US, taking walks down various memory lanes, reliving experiences that I had forgotten about. Retreading some steps, treading over new steps, laughing with the joy of beautiful memories, wincing at the pain of others. I reminisce with friends, with family, people I went to school with, people I know from college. I go back and revisit different versions of myself and realize how much those different parts of me — the sadness, the anger, the happiness, the joy and excitement, are all part of the me I am today.

It’s been a really interesting journey to go back with myself on a trip to the past, to go back to the past and re-encounter myself again and again, see how much I’ve changed and grown and how my experiences have shaped me and to see how much of myself is still the same. The tiny light that flickered in me as a child has only grown brighter and stronger over time, papering over the cracks of pain, breaking me apart in order to build me up even stronger, to become even more of myself.

I was always afraid of expressing myself, expressing my truth, as a child, and even into early adulthood. In public, I would be friendly and smiley, but shy, not willing to let myself be myself, because the truth is — I can be a big presence. I’m opinionated and sure of myself and have high expectations of myself and others. I’m impatient and sometimes impulsive, the filter between my brain and my mouth often has a 2-second lag time (okay, who are we kidding, 10-minute), and my mind works quickly. The more I own those parts of myself, the more I feel at home inside of myself.

It’s so hard to leave this home to go back to my other home, Israel. I find pieces of myself that I thought were left behind, parts of who I was and sometimes of who I still am today. I am confronted with the good, the bad, and the ugly of many of the formational experiences that have turned me into the person I am today. This retrieval process always makes me feel fuller and more whole, connected and sated by the strong bonds I recreate while I’m here, these pieces of my being I sometimes forget about. It’s hard to leave the space that allows for me to be myself, that strengthens me in the me I am today, that feels easy and natural and comforting to me. But I leave for my other home with strength, and love, and greater awareness.

May we all be blessed to be surrounded by people who love and fulfill us, lucky enough to reencounter the pieces of ourselves we thought we lost or threw away and grateful for the many places and people we call home.