‘You can’t go home again,” said Thomas Wolfe. “Home is where the heart is,” said Pliny the Elder. I suppose they’re both correct on some level. On one of my rare trips to the Southland recently, those feelings got conjured up.
I cut my driving teeth on rush hour traffic on Interstate 5 in Los Angeles. The freeway was the first thing to get my adrenaline rushing. It was easy. But the hills, the same old rock and roll on KLOS, memories of cruising the boulevards looking for fun flooded back.
But this was certainly not home, nor would it ever be again. Frankly, it felt nebulous while I was there. I believe my heart left long before my body did.
And now, as you read this, my young son will have landed on the shores of his next adventure, an apartment and roommates already set, an ocean between him and his family. Oahu, Hawaii.
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“Yer killin’ me, Smalls. … I can’t drive there,” I lamented.
I will, of course, bite the bullet and fly. Obviously. It would be a long swim, and besides, I get less airsick than seasick.
His last night in Portland, Ore., he and his brother had dinner together. Was I imagining it, or did I really experience the emotion he later told me they were indeed feeling. Who knows when they would see each other again? It was rather tearful.
“I know — I was feeling it too. It’s a mom thing.”
Even though my boys didn’t see each other all the time, there was something about knowing the other was there. Just close. But, they are both on their own.
It has been so handy to have them in one vicinity. But I’m not lamenting that so much as I can’t just jump in the car and drive north if I need/want. How do you folks with kids around the planet do it? I bow to you.
But, speaking of where the heart is, one of the things that attracted him to Hawaii was the sense of family and community, he said. It helps that his buddies are all natives. Aside from that, he assured me he could feel it.
“I know what people say about being an outsider, I get that, but, you gotta feel it in your heart and head.”
That’s my boy. Something about growing up in Cambria: You may not be able to go home, but you can take it with you, right?
I did the same 34 years ago. I was following a dream to be out of the city, and an opportunity arose. I was not running from anything, nor is my son. It’s just that, sometimes you gotta know what else there is. It’s easy to get complacent and comfortable. I’m proud of him for taking that leap of faith (and an airplane) to make his own way. Well, except for a little interim support from the folks. And a possible plane ticket home if need be. And that would be OK, too.
My parents are gone, my family is scattered, so, my heart is my home base. But, what does one do when your heart is both in Portland, Ore., and on a Pacific island, so many more miles away? There won’t even be a reason to break out Christmas decorations this year as Son the Older will be with his girlfriend on her family’s traditional ski trip in the Alps (right?) and Son the Younger will be establishing himself in the tropics.
I will keep vigil at their place of birth, look over the boxes of photos and baby toys and books, hopefully Skype or Facetime more often and … cry once in a while with pride and because I miss them so much.
Doggone, ya go and raise them to do their own thing and then they do it. Sigh. Hmmmm, can you say Mele Kalikimaka?