They say you can’t go Home again. When you touch the river a second time — it’s not the same water. Change the universal constant — stalks all things — including Home.
Home has never been a place to me. Home is a feeling I carry in my heart. These days I feel twinges of it Christmas mornings with my grandchildren or sitting around a fire-pit with my Tribe. On occasion — Home will touch me in my living room as I’m sipping tea in front of my fireplace — good book in hand.
This weekend I went Home. Not just to a place in my heart. Not just to people who love me but also to the physical landscape of my childhood.
Upstate New York. Cloaked in the last of Her fall colors She welcomed me back. River valleys with farmlands — cornfields soon to be cut — mown hayfields — and great stretches of woods embraced my soul. The trees knew me by name. The creeks and rivers sang me their lullabies. The creatures came out to bid me a good day- deer, turkey, squirrels, and buzzards blinked hello to me as they passed by.
The stars shone through one evening when we had no clouds and I remembered how much I missed the night sky. I would stare at that sky and understand — even as a kid — how vast and Divine The Universe was.
Carol — my cousin/sister/friend had a birthday — with a birthday party — so I got to see nearly all my family who lives here. She is one of ten kids. It was a helluva party!
My cousins are the keepers of my memories. They were there in the aftermath of my mother’s death. They knew the names of all the animals on my Aunt’s farm. We played together in the hayloft in her barn. Their father was best man at my parent’s wedding. I had forgotten what it feels like to have history with other humans.
History — a warm secure blanket you wrap around yourself. Shared inside jokes. Memories like hot chocolate and sugar cookies, or cold homemade ice cream on a hot summer day. Long horseback rides through winding dirt roads singing Janis Joplin — badly. An old country squire station wagon filled with kids who piled out of it as though there was no end to them — relieved to be free after their four-hour trek. Sentence after sentence that begins with, “Hey — you remember…” and ends with at least five people joining the conversation and peals of laughter as the story is told, retold, updated, and mangled beyond recognition then laid to rest.
I spent an entire four days immersed in the love and chaos of my family. People with whom I share the tiniest smidge of DNA but yet have branded me as “theirs” long ago.
I laughed and I hugged and I drank and I danced. I was teased and I was protected. But mostly I was simply loved. As I am.
Because that is how you know when you are really Home.
Robert Frost said, “ Home is a place where, when you go there, they have to take you in.”
Decades ago my cousins collectively, without any conscious thought, made the decision to take me in. They have been taking me in ever since.
Bruce, Robert, Cathy, Rick, Alan, Anne, Jese, Marilyn. Carol, John — and all their wonderful spouses and lovely kids — I can never thank you enough for being Home for me.