Raising children in one corner of the United States, when everything I knew and loved best was 3,000 miles diagonally in the other corner was hard.
“This was a real, truly live place….I remember that some of it wasn’t very nice…but most of it was beautiful. But just the same, all I kept saying to everybody was, I want to go home. And they sent me home… And this is my room – and you’re all here! And I’m not going to leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all! And – on Auntie Em! – there’s no place like home.” Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz
When parenthood overwhelmed me, I needed my mommy but this was before MMB, FB, AOL or IM (“long-distance” meant an expensive phone call and “leavin’ on a jet plane” was still exotic enough that the radio played songs about it).
And where were my friends? After high school or college, we’d scattered like the children of Israel.
Not only was this emotional terrain challenging to me, I refused to get comfortable with the physical environment. Palm trees, in my opinion, could never replace evergreens, and water in the air could never compare to water from the sky.
It scared and dismayed me--being so far from “home”.
This sickness turned toxic when it began to affect the precious relationships that had taken me to Oz: my in-laws, my children, my husband. At that point, Heaven knew it was time to intervene for their sake as well as my own, so a good fairy was sent on the errand; an angel named Aunt Athlene, my mother’s sister.
We talked for a long time over the phone —I mean, I talked for a long time, and she listened. After my whimpers were extinguished with just the right dose of sympathy, she turned me upside down with this profound perspective:
What you need to understand, darling,” she began gently, “is that you do not have “A” home. Rather, you have many homes -- or you WILL have many homes -- as a woman. There will always be the “home” of your childhood, but you also have the “home” of your college years; the “home” of your early married life; now another “home” of your young family life; and perhaps another in your mature years. They may even put you in a “home” when you’re an old grandma like me!”
“You will see with time,” she continued, “that each “home” in your life becomes saturated with its own memories, its own traditions and its own purpose. Think about this: your babyhood home must have felt very strange -- so different from the one you left in heaven – but aren’t you glad you made THAT move?”
I have mused a lot this week over that advice from long ago: in ten days we are leaving this little London flat for our three-story house, and I can hardly believe it was thirteen months ago I was leaving the U.S. for a place called England.
Experiences still too fresh to be called 'memories' are flooding me like the waters of the Red Sea on the armies of Pharaoh; I could almost drown in them. It is comforting to know that most of those experiences have been packaged in words and photos, blogs and journals. Even so, it is discomfiting that the flesh of it all, the people, cannot be shipped with the furniture. The only place for them is in my heart.
Aunt Athlene was right: life is all about creating a home, wherever you are and for however long, and the sooner you accept that and get on with it, the faster you can grow and the more love there is in the world.
So say it I must: good-bye wonderful London --you're (another) “home” now.
“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”
Muse with me: are you "home"?
Click on the ruby slippers to watch a music video you may get as hooked on as I have:
"There Is No Place Like Home"
"There Is No Place Like Home"