We arrived home at midnight and it felt like another dimension. The house seemed strangely familiar, like something I’d seen before but of which I didn’t have an actual relationship. As in a dream I walked from room to room, remembering what our couch looked like, recognizing the kids in the picture frames as my own, realizing that our kitchen table doesn’t match our kitchen at all. And we were only gone a month.
31 days to be exact.
During the last days we wished so hard to be home, in our own beds, eating homemade food, pulling clothes from drawers instead of packing up our bags every morning. And then we were there. And it was weird. Like “I don’t think I live here. I’m pretty sure I live in my car.” And I wasn’t sure I wanted to live in my house, in Lawrence, KS, in the middle of the country. I felt pulled toward the coast. For obvious the-west-coast-is-beautiful reasons, but also due to a mysterious tug of the heart.
Like it just fit.
Those who know me will find this ironic. And possibly infuriating. When I moved to L.A. in 1999 with my new husband, solely because that is where he wanted and needed to live for his work (movie-making), I hated it. Truly, I did. I dreamt of Lawrence constantly for two years, longing for the familiar place I understood – its seasons, its trees, its small-ness. L.A. was foreign and crowded and hectic and enormous. It took me several more years to really think of it as home, or one of my homes, and be glad about it. I was happy when we moved back to my roots after having our first baby. We took a collective sigh of relief for the slower pace, the bike-able/walk-ableness, the non-existent traffic. I had been overwhelmed for years and was ready to settle the hell down. Lawrence was the perfect place for having babies.
But (if you read my earlier post My Old Friend, you’ll know) when I reached Los Angeles and the central California coast on our trip, I was shocked to realize that this felt home-like, too. After all those years of struggling to enjoy life there, I found myself pulled toward it. Suddenly it felt familiar. Which is such a funny turn of events it proves you never know what’s coming. No one would have pegged me as headed to the West Coast when I was younger, and no one would suspect I would want to go back.
So why the inconsistency? Why the fickle hatred-to-longing feeling? Is it The-Grass-is-Greener Syndrome? Is it because I’m (cross my fingers) done having babies and don’t need as much settling down as I did before? Is it a legitimate pull toward something, or a restless running away? Is this a problematic theme in my life – discontent – or a stages-of-life reality? I do not know that answer to any of these. I’m pondering. And the pondering will continue as home prices in L.A. are well beyond our means for now. But the seed has been planted. We’ll see how it grows, or if it dies in the dirt of settling back in.
If you have a freakishly inexpensive home in South Pasadena you’d like to rent out for part of the year, specifically during the months of February and August, let me know. In the meantime, here’s to pondering, and the idea of home, and awesome road trips that might just change the course of your life.