So... I've been feeling a little nostalgic for "home" here lately. I put home in quotes, because it's always been a bit of a fluid concept for me. Growing up in an intinerate clergy household, I tended not to associate "home" with particular locations, but with that place (or more likely in my experience - those places) that gives you comfort. I learned the Robert Frost quote early: "home is where when you have to go, they have to take you."
A few of the "homes" I've had:
My grandparents' homes. Our extended family was very close. I always spent a few weeks each summer visiting my grandparents' homes. Now all of my grandparents have "gone on to their great reward" (as they say in my "homeland"), but those towns, and even those houses still feel a little like home.
Wherever my family lived. Like I said, we moved a lot, so I don't associate home with any particular house we lived in. People always ask if that life was "hard". I suppose it was, to some extent, but it also taught me to appreciate my family - our relationships. Don't get me wrong, we're as screwed up as any other family, but there were significant times in our history when we were all we had. We'd moved to a new town, didn't know anyone, were starting our lives over. If we didn't make it a point to appreciate each other, we would have been alone. So, somewhere I just learned to love them and to make them my home, even in spite of our messed-up ways and eccentricities. It's a pretty good gift.
But now, the issue is that as a "nuclear" family, we've gone our separate ways. Mom and Dad have set up a new life for themselves in Tennessee - away from our Louisiana roots. My brother is married and has a son with two more dear little ones on the way. His family lives in Mississippi. And here I am, as my nephew says, "WAAAAAAY up in New Jersey!"
So where does that leave home? Even more elusive than before, that's where.
The long and short of it is, I've been "WAAAAAAY up in New Jersey!" for a while without connecting with home through any more than telephone calls and emails. Of course, New Jersey is a kind of home now, too. And I love it here. I love the life that I've formed for myself and the relationships that I've made. But I still find myself longing, from time to time, for that home that I can't make alone.
So I've come up with some strategies for finding home. Certainly friends and newfound loved ones help, a lot. But tonight's strategy is a movie. "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?". Of course my vision of the South is different from that which is depicted in 1930s Mississippi, but honestly, not by much. While the "new South" has changed a lot, some of the more quaint traditions have endured. We even tend to still sing some of the same music.
That's Sunday night for you. Finding home. The movie has ended, and honestly, I'm a little more contented about it than I was a couple of hours ago. It's good to go home.