WATCH: You Can Go Home Again: A Walk Down Memory Lane in England

·Editor at Large
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Leeds, England (Andrew Rothschild)

In every life there are pivotal moments, “Sliding Doors” situations, where things would be very different if another path had been taken. I’ve had several of these, but the first one happened when I was very little in Leeds, England.

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My father was getting his PhD at the university there, and my mother was teaching locally. My sister and I were both born there, and we lived in a quintessential Yorkshire home — dark, coal-stained stone; long, thin windows; and a door my mother painted bright red. It was a good time for our family. My mother would push me in a pram to the to fish and chips shop on the corner — now called the Fishermans Wife — every time she didn’t want to cook or do dishes (read: every other day), and by all accounts we were a happy little family.

Then my dad’s thesis was accepted and he got his degree, along with two job offers: one from the University of Leeds … and another from Riyadh University in Saudi Arabia.

Had he chosen the job in Leeds, I most likely would have grown up with a British accent in that very house, and my entire life would have been very different. As it was, we moved to Saudi Arabia — and very quickly back to the United States, where I grew up in Cincinnati. My parents divorced.

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Visiting the old Leeds house (Andrew Rothschild)

But Leeds and that home have always loomed large in my family’s history. So when I went to England last month, I wanted to see the house, and the couple living there now were kind enough to let me in.

It was an emotional full-circle trip: seeing where I was born, where I could have grown up, where my family would have been a unit. It was like an alternate, bizarro universe.

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Fish and chips! (Andrew Rothschild)

Afterward, I stopped at the Fisherman’s Wife — and mom was right. It is the best, lightest fish and chips ever (despite the fact that I will never be a mushy peas girl). If you’re ever in Leeds, stop by.

Thanks to Visit Britain for the opportunity.

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