They say, and I suppose I have too, that you can never go home again. But sometimes one can get close. This post may smack of the self-indulgent, even meander into sentimentality. Although, if I’ve done my job well, gentle reader, there may be resonance in your own spirit as well.
I live 5,000 miles away; an ocean, a continent, and several countries from anywhere that counts as Home, capital H ~ aside from ‘where the cat is,’ which is truly “home,” lower case, where I hang my hat, as it were. But Home, where I hang my heart, is parceled out across the United States. Some of those places feel like home because I’ve lived there and the vibe of the place is comfortable; it fits me. Some are because individuals make it so. But there is one spot, in the middle of the fly-over states, at the confluence of rivers, a modest house on a one-block street where I grew from an abstract idea to a 22 year old college graduate. Home. My sister lives in that house now.
This summer, July 4th weekend (because they are always July 4th for Upper Arlington High School,) was my 30-year class reunion. I wasn’t close to a great number of my classmates, but a few are most of the best friends I’ll ever have. There are some who were in my inner circle back then, but we went our own ways, who turned up for the gathering. Reconnecting with them, just for an evening, watered desiccated places in my heart I hadn’t even noticed were there. Dry roots reaching back to youthful days were enlivened. I remembered us. The insecure 18-year-old stood up inside this middle-aged woman and shed the old anxiety like a sweater on a hot spring day. The past was liberated to be reintegrated without regret. It, too, was delightful to see some of the others, what they’ve done with their lives. The surprises were kind of wonderful, finding commonality with the fully formed humans where there wasn’t much in our callow youth.
But it was the Out to Lunch Bunch ~as one father christened this giggle of girls who ransacked his home, ate his food, and borrowed his cars~ who were my everything then and remain at the bedrock of my life. We had a cookout one night to put spouses and children et al together. Off to one side, with another friend, we discussed those friendships versus any that come after. Maybe it’s because everyone is neurotic and/or annoying in their own way, but when we understand why because we were all there together, possibly even the cause of it, compassion comes naturally. You can never make a new old friend. New friends are great and absolutely necessary, especially given our mobile society, but when I am with these women, whom I’ve known since before we were women, something is revitalized, remembered, renewed. Time with any of them, these friends I’ve kept, is an infusion of mojo, a booster shot of my best, strongest self, something to re-inflate my flagging identity when circumstances leech it away.
It was thus invigorated, after our weekend together, I set about revisiting my Home, taking care of business, and soaking up the centering and serenity it gives me.
A quick rundown of things I keenly appreciate due to the profound lack of them in my day-to-day life:
- Spacious parking lots and garages, often without any fee at all, with empty spaces and cars neatly centered in only one space at a time
- Big, old trees casting mottled shade over a yard of soft grass
- Wide, multi-lane freeways, with clear signage, thoughtfully engineered to move people through and about town efficiently
- Wall-to-wall carpeting
- Good ethnic food everywhere
- Customer service ~ people expressing a desire to sell me something I would like to acquire
- Wood floors and solidly-constructed window frames
- Cardinals and their songs ~ so brilliant in the trees, the sweetest music in the air
- Something for everyone ~ in groceries and malls and restaurants, so many things I never imagined and would never want, but also things others couldn’t identify but make me giddy
There is much transpiring here which I do not recognize nor understand. I do feel like a stranger in my city and an alien among my people. Some is just progress, which is also acutely absent in my current locale. Some of it comes from perspective I’ve gained living and traveling with the other. But there is much here which worries me. Just passing through, I try to ignore it. I sit in the most peaceful place I know for miles around ~ the screened-in porch of my childhood; the garden has changed but remains lush, quiet, and calming, the cats have cycled but they are lovely cats; Papa Red sings for me, “pretty pretty pretty,” and the wind chimes play gently with the breeze ~ and meditate on my great good fortune: friends, family, opportunity, places I’ve been and will be, people I’ve known who have taught me well, loving and being loved, peace in my heart even when it isn’t in the land.