“Sometimes I forget, and I think you forget, that you had life-long roots; that takes time.” He says this as I walk under a stories tall tree that has erupted the concrete beneath our feet in the name of growing it roots. I step over the cracks and unevenness and marvel at the power of those roots: it took time but they were not complacent and one day, or maybe over the course of several, they pushed aside the convenience of the sidewalk to make known what had been there all along.
I asked my mom if it was hard; was it hard to have your kids, who you pour all you energy and love into all their lives, at the established time simply strike out on their own, like we are told we should- sow oats, be independent, make your own path- how does all that work? She admitted that yes it is hard, but it is also just what we do; the world is a big place and now we know how big and now it is more available than ever. Of course, we want to see the world, live in a place that isn’t our hometown, see a corner of life that isn’t available where we are. And yet, how many times have I excitedly gushed (meanwhile knowing this is just talk of lovely things that will never really come together) about living in a commune with all our friends with a garden and houses to each side and raising our kids with “aunts and uncles” all over the place.
The thing is that in this global economy the home I am sick for is not one place. People are too transient, too adventurous, and too searching to stay in one place too long. Mom and I mused at what you miss for the opportunities- it used to be that families stayed in the same town, in the same plot of land even, and while they called it simply normal, not communal, it was a community and there was a chance for communion. I think we all long for that, and all the opportunity, while exciting, is also isolating. Not that I haven’t taken advantage of it and enjoyed the benefits of this world of opportunity; I have and I know that I (we) will continue to- we did after all just make the confident decision to move several states away- part of our reasoning was that I wanted to live somewhere else, have a new place with new things. But all this comes at a cost and I find that when I am homesick, it is not just for Kentucky and not just for my parent’s home in the country or childhood memories of our century old house with secret passages and dinners around the table with chores afterward or sitting in the “way back” of our station wagon facing the ever continuing road. In this expanded life home has meant more than that.
I am homesick for Thacker A where I and my roommates had more fun than I thought was possible (and it was good, clean fun too), for a university park in Oxford, England that gave me time to think, for the “fam” and how we probably all saved each other from those tentative just after college years, for the girls that restore my soul on quick trips to Ohio or Indiana, for trips to see my best friend at her boarding school and trips to see that best friend in her “borrowed” villa in Provence, for our best couple friends that we didn’t have to clean the house for, and for all the little homes (3 going on…) in which John and I have started our life together. There is a choice to be grateful for the fact that I have been allowed these friends and these places, and I am grateful, but I am also thoughtful. Emerson has a quote about gaining something in every loss, and I appreciate that, but it is a dialectic in that the same is true in every gain. I am thankful for the convenience, the speed, and the opportunity, but I think it is good to appreciate that there is something lost in the midst of it, so what to do but soak in this home in this time and this place and be grateful that there will come a time when I will have the blessing of being sick for it.