Finding our way home

November 18, 2011

South in winter, north in spring: birds always know where home is.

Back in the day, extended families all lived in the same area. “Home” was clear. Today, not so much. Many of us who live away from our hometowns talk about “going home” when we visit our families. If you have children, you’ve formed a new home with them, but sometimes you consider both places “home.”

I’ve been a vagabond, really, pulling up roots every so often and replanting myself. I don’t have just one home, I call several wonderful places “home.”

As much as this California-loving girl hates to admit it, when I get off a plane in Tampa and prepare to visit with my wonderful friends there, it does feel like home. The palm trees and warm, humid air, the familiar drive on 60 East from the airport to Dale Mabry, the landmark buildings (noting the changes in the past year). “I’m home!” I exult.

Or, from San Jose, I head south on Highway 101 and approach the Monterey peninsula, the moody, magical place which was my home for years but spoke to my soul for decades before I moved there.

Almost 30 years since I lived in Tallahassee, a mystical city of Spanish moss, marshes and catfish; where most of the trucks had gunracks; and the language was Southern drawl. Did it happen? Or was it a setting for a book I once read?

And I’m 40 years, too many deaths and too much water under the bridge to call my hometown of Rochester “home.” It seems like another lifetime, really, or a colorful dream I once had.

Home is now in San Jose, our compact but airy house, our two dogs standing guard, friends and neighbors with whom we share frequent wine-soaked dinners, hummus and Halloween.

Home may not always be the same place, like it is for birds. But we always know where it is. And like birds, we’ll always find our way back, one way or another.

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