Lately, as in the last 25 years or so, I've pondered this word 'home.' It is kinda like 'love' or 'God' - meaning many things to many people.
On Friday night, riding the H Line home from a drinks/dinner/drinks-fueled meeting downtown, I was thinking that I'm finally starting to feel like I truly live in Colorado - like I have friends, a life and possibly a future here. Of course, getting a local number helped this mind shift tremendously; it was like cutting an invisible cord that stretched all the way back to San Francisco. Painful but freeing at the same time.
I've been anticipating a trip next week to North Dakota, my #1 favorite underdog state. (Mississippi is #2.) We'd be seeing family, our farmland and stopping by my mother's childhood home, which is in the process of being slowly reclaimed by nature, somewhat of a North Dakota tradition. Animals occasionally set up camp in the living room where we once played board games and tree limbs are gradually crushing the structure in a suffocating embrace. It is ghostly, sad and yet somehow justified.
Years ago, the time had finally arrived when the house had to be emptied of valued furniture and mementos - an emotional task that my mother long dreaded. I booked a flight to meet up with my mother and Cousin Linda and hopped in the Super Shuttle. There, I met a young woman and as travelers often do, we exchanged facts about where we were headed and why.
When I told her my strange mission, she exclaimed: "Wow. Your mother is so lucky. We moved so often when I was growing up, I don't even have a childhood home, let alone one that I could still visit." This gal put an entirely different light on the situation; she could only dream about a run-down farmhouse frozen in time and yet, to my mother, it was one big emotional wringer sitting on the prairie, haunting her.
Anyway, I got a phone call on Saturday that has canceled this trip and inspired a new one. My mom called 911 on herself around 3 a.m. that day, fearful that she was having a heart attack. She's now in a hospital and tomorrow, I head back to my hometown, Long Beach, to be with her. I HATE the idea of her being alone in a hospital bed when she was there every second of so many of my hospital visits. I am anxious to be at her side, squeeze her hand and make her laugh about anything at all.
Am I going home? Am I leaving home? I dunno but my best friend, Lisa, is picking me up at the airport and taking me to the very same house I grew up in. Like my mother, I am fortunate to have a standing museum to my childhood and though it is in tip-top shape, it also carries both joy and some echoes of sadness.
Maybe in the end, it doesn't matter where you pick up your mail or what address it says on your lease or mortgage agreement. Maybe home is just wherever you find love.