Saturday, April 6, 2013

Where is Home?

For the last two weeks, I have traveled on my own.  I guess driving three thousand miles gives a person time to think and reflect.  I did both.
I started my journey in Colorado Springs, a place I called home for over twenty years.  I suppose I thought when I got to town, I would step off the plane and feel some familiar feeling inside me. Something that said "home".  I drove around, seeing friends, doing errands just like I had done for almost half my life.  I had raised a family here, built two business and nurtured my family and countless people in my life.  But it felt somehow foreign to me now.  Beautiful, yes, with snow falling and the mountains holding my gaze, but it no longer felt like home.
I drove up to the condo that we have owned for fifteen years.  A place were our children had grown up on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains.  A place were we had spent countless Christmases, entertained countless guests and consumed more than our share of hot soup from the stove.  I looked out onto the lake, from the deck where I had stood many many times.  I wanted to feel some overwhelming desire to stay, to curl up with the green blanket that I feel in love with on our first trip to that condo all those years ago.  But I didn't.  I packed boxes and loaded a trailer and in 6 inches of perfect powder, I drove away and never looked back.
I arrived in Las Vegas, location of our newest purchase.  I walked around and touched all those "things" that I had held close to me after we retired.  I ran my hand across the antique kitchen table that my brother John had in his kitchen before his death thirty-eight years ago.  There was a time that I thought that where my "things" were would be my home.  I did not feel that any more.  I felt anything but that.
I was on my way to my old hometown the next day.  As I crossed into the San Joaquin Vally, I saw the valley alive with Spring.  I felt the fresh nip in the air, and the flowers I grew up loving were in full bloom.  I had been born and raised in this Valley.  I had loved and lost more people here than I cared to think about.  I had three children in this sunshine state.  It was the last place I had seen my mother alive.  On this trip, I visited with friends, held new babies and shared in the joy of a new engagement of a young man I once held in my arms as a baby.  I have been blessed with so many fine friends in this place.  But it too no longer felt like home.
I drove to Mexico through deserts that reminded me of the High Desert of California that brought back the memories of our first Air Force duty station, George AFB.  A place that we called home for three years and was the location of the birth of our youngest child.  Along the way, I drove through some of the most beautiful agricultural fields I have ever seen.  Green houses full of tomatoes and fields full of workers picking crops.  It was very much like the San Joaquin Valley of my youth.  The fields where my mother and father worked as laborers when they arrived from the South so many decades ago.  I could smell the dirt.  The clean smell that fresh-tilled soil makes. The way my father smelled when he would arrive home in an old Ford pickup. I drove through mountains and over passes and crawled through small towns.  I thought about that feeling that home gives you and wondered why I did not feel that on my journey.
I drove into my driveway late at night after dark.  Much later than I should have been on the road, in Mexico, the US, or any where else.  But something kept driving me, instead of looking for a place for the night.  Something that made me force myself to sit up straight and stay alert.  It was not until the moment that I saw him walk down the stairs and put his arms around me that it became so clear.  It was never about the place, or the things.  It was never about the history or the smells.  It was always about this moment.  It was there in his arms, that I closed my eyes and took in the feeling that came over me.  When he put his arms around me, I was finally "home".

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