At home again, naturally...
I know… it’s been a while! I needed a break. After all of the insanity of COVID, the Orange Menace, the insurrection, racial tensions fraying and exploding and 16 Mets on the injured list, I really needed some time to just take it all in and do some reflecting. So let’s start with what Dorothy finally remembered when she clicked the ruby slippers…”There’s no place like home”. Sounds simple enough, but for me, home has a more complicated definition, with multiple meanings.
In every sense of the word, when I’m here in Madrid, it feels like home. It’s been nearly 3 years and life has settled into a wonderful rhythm, Covid be damned. Having meaningful work, good friends, great food and things to do, all accompanied by the singular Spanish urban beat of Madrid just feels so right to me. As contradictory as it might sound urban life allows me to experience enough stimulation to feel at peace.
Back in March, when you were reading about how difficult it was in Europe to get vaccinated, I left for LA and Santa Barbara in search the first open appointment at any CVS within reach. It had been more than a year and a half since I’d been back and I hadn’t realized how much I missed being there. Despite curfews, masks and the level orange restrictions to everyday life there was still so much to experience that reminded me of why I have loved living in that part of the world for now about 35 years on and off. Friends to re-connect with, the beauty of the coastline beaches and mountains, and most importantly history…our history of raising a family and building a life together is so rooted in that place with memories seemingly at every stop light.
So then where is home for me? Is it here? Is it there? Or where? I could very easily say that I will forever be the boy from New York City the “where” I first entered this world and stayed for more than three decades. If I’m just using time spent as a measure I’ve called NY home the longest. But then again in the latter third of those years, I started traveling the world…a lot! So in pretty short order I started to find ways to see every place that I happened to be as “home”even if just for a day or two. Routine, something always a comfort to me, took over and simple things like putting clothes in drawers and closets literally kept me from living out of a suitcase and had a grounding effect.
Once I found the woman that I was lucky enough to convince to be my wife, 36. years ago (!) things started to shift. Even though I was still often on the road, my heart was with her. When the girls and later our son came along again it was clearer still that home, the place I truly belonged and yearned for was with them. Yet the traveling never really stopped and so we learned how to stay close no matter the physical distances separating us. And so I started to understand more clearly than ever, that for me, home is more than a place, it’s a state of mind. These days, my state of mind is more and more connected to the people that in measures large and small have made my life rich and meaningful starting with family.
As I write this long delayed re-entry, I’m on a plane headed to Atlanta to join a celebration of my Aunt and Uncle’s 60th Anniversary. They sent a family wedding photo from that day and my 11 year old face is in it smiling with those of my parents and brothers. Sadly too many of those faces are now only memories. This past week came with more sad news, that of a high school classmate leaving us…she was a such a smart, funny and talented person and she will always be the beautiful girl that sat behind me in home room and shared jokes from comedy albums we both memorized. And of course, to her loving family she will forever be so, so much more.
So, no, I’ve never lived in Atlanta but today I’m headed there to celebrate life with my extended family, who will always and forever be a part why I am so grateful to be alive and who will make me feel like I’m home again…naturally.