The Place We Call Home

Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, Sudbury, MA (2016)

I am waiting for a flight that will return me to Florida, a place I now call home. It’s confusing in that I am leaving a place that I called home for 43 years. When people ask me where I am from, I often distinguish between where I am from and where I live, depending on what I think the questioner intended. I returned “home” to Massachusetts for a visit with family and friends. My sister and nephews and their families no longer live in Massachusetts but it was a convenient meeting place because my younger nephew was in the wedding party of one of his high-school friends. I still have two cousins in western Massachusetts but my stay included only the central and eastern parts of the state.

It was a very good visit. I was able to connect with long-time friends, some of whom I had not seen in decades. I drove familiar roads and stopped at places I had not been to in more than ten years, including the college from which I have my undergraduate degree and where I worked as the Education Department Chair in the late 1990s. Yesterday, I strolled through a favorite botanical garden in central Massachusetts.

Tower Hill Botanical Garden (2016)

The weather has been delightful – sunny, dry, in the low 80s. Although many parts of the state are severely dry and rain would have been “good” weather, I enjoyed the sunny and cool (for me) days. Driving with the car windows down was a real treat! In a previous post, I described the traffic coming out of Logan airport so I won’t mention that again. Suffice it to say that the drive to the airport this morning (by a different road) was smooth.

As much as I enjoyed this visit, it was just that – a visit. The places I visited are all memories of former times. I strolled through familiar places recognizing that I really don’t belong in those places anymore. The places and the people have moved on, in directions different from mine. Like me, most of my friends know that there are more years behind us than ahead of us. It’s not a sad feeling really; it’s more a feeling of letting go and being OK with that letting go.

I am reminded of the PBS series that I am following now, called “A Place to Call Home.” The main character returns to Australia after an extended stay in Europe. She discovers that she cannot return to the home she had left years earlier, and must now move forward in finding another place to call home. I am in that liminal space now, transitioning from one “home” to another one. I am letting go of the idea that I might return to a life in Massachusetts in a few years. I am not sure if Florida will be my home for the next ten or twenty years, but I am fairly sure that Massachusetts in no longer the place to which I will return to call home.

Garden Arbors (2016)

As we age, there is a lot of letting go, some of our own choosing, some not. Last month, I let go of my bicycle. It sat unused in my garage for at least two years, waiting for me to get in shape again. I realized that while I might one day ride again, the chance of riding without injury was lessening every day. It was hard to let go. However, there is a sense of freedom in letting go. I no longer feel guilty every time I go through the garage!

I am feeling a certain freedom, too, about letting go of questions about future plans: Should I return to higher education where I was happy for many years? Should I move back to Massachusetts where I was at home for so many years? Should I think about a second home for the summer season? I am returning to Florida with renewed energy to live fully in the present moment. If Florida is my home for the future, how do I begin to make plans for the time when my independence is challenged by physical limitations? These are probably questions for another posting.


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