Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to. ~John Ed Pearce
For a long time, I adhered to the phrase, “you can’t go home again.” Why would I want to go back home? What could I possibly find back home? Didn’t I say I’d never move back home? There was nothing for me in that place of my youth; nothing new, nothing exciting, nothing to do, nothing to see, nothing to, literally, write home about. I was living the good life, the high life, the big city life, the life of Riley, the life of theatre, sailing, swanky restaurants, concerts, endless activities, and never enough parking. I could go to dinner Friday nights, antique-shop on Saturdays, have Sunday morning brunch, and sail under the Golden Gate Bridge whenever I wanted. But I didn’t. Ever. Not once. The restaurants were too swanky, the concerts too pricey, and the sailing? A lot like marriage – completely overrated. So in October of 2002, after spending fourteen years switching jobs, paying excessive rent, and cohabitating with one pompous Brit, I packed up my tripod dog and hit the proverbial road. It’s hard to believe it’s been five wacky, action-packed, fun-filled, tequila-soaked years already. It seems like only yesterday I was packing boxes and burning wedding photos….aaaaah, good times.
There’s nothing half so pleasant as coming come again. – Margaret Elizabeth Sangster
After planting my roots again in the vineyards of this here hinterland, there are lots of things I’ve discovered. First of all, living with your parents after the age of 40 is quite an experience. Actually, it’s more of an acquired taste…like squash or broccoli. You may not like it at first, but if it’s your only option, you open wide like a baby bird. I did enjoy my stay at the Hunter Hotel, where the sheets are crisp and the freezer’s well stocked. Some things are always better in the warmth and comfort of your old childhood bedroom, especially during the winter months. Like the smell of coffee in the morning, the coziness of an electric blanket, and the sound of the heater kick-kick-kicking on at 2 a.m. Other times, dwelling with the parental unit is like strolling through the Big Fresno Fair; it’s LOUD, it’s BRIGHT, it’s CROWDED, and you’re always bound to eat too much. On the other hand, you’ll wear funny hats, down a few beers, and never worry about finding gum on your shoe. Hell, you don’t even have to pay for parking.
Home is not where you live but where they understand you. ~Christian Morgenstern
Another thing I’ve noticed is some people never change. Old friends you went to high school with a million years ago haven’t seemed to age a bit. Or grown up. Or matured. They may have kids, mortgages, and car payments, but a good booger joke can still double them over. The words “boob” and “fart” still elicit ridiculous laughter, burping remains an Olympic sport, and dinner table conversation about bodily functions are never off limits. This behavior is only encouraged in a natural setting, say, the mountains, for example. A camping trip without a daily barrage of belching and competitive visits to the tin-can toilets is for sissies. We’re the real deal. We know how to brave the great outdoors. We have the technology. We have the bug spray. We have the cocktails. With hand sanitizer, Jell-O shots, and enthusiastic games of Chicken Foot, we toast s’mores, blow up mattresses, chase wild cows, and smash the hell out of an innocent volleyball. By golly, we even bring our own toilet paper.
Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Homesick in Heaven
I’ve also found that it doesn’t matter whether you’re in San Francisco or the burbs of Fresno, working with a bunch of clotheshorse-obsessed females anywhere, is never dull. It’s like a daily runway show. A veritable catwalk of entertainment. Gucci, Coach, Fendi, and Ralph Lauren never had such good publicity. Women who can walk in 5 inch Jimmy Choo stilettos and not break an ankle simply amaze me…they are thoroughbreds in their own right. Plus, the patience it takes to find just the right Armani handbag to match your new Donna Karan sweater is way beyond my thought process. I’m lucky to make it out the door with my pants on. Or my teeth brushed. Or awake. But hey, that’s just me. That particular cashmere clique can discuss boutique sales at great length (“I LOVE that jacket! Is it Prada?”), while the rest of us regale in the joys of our local Target (“I LOVE those socks! Are they Jockey?”) Priorities, people, priorities. Luckily, you can go ANYWHERE here, wearing just about ANYTHING. Going to the Philharmonic, and all you have is a ball gown and hip waders? No problem! Heading to Roger Rocka’s, Toledo’s, or the 6019 Club? Throw a flask in your backpack, and change the laces in your Converse. Dashing out to the Brig, the Hollywood, or the Longhorn? Um, cowboy boots and manners are optional. Just don’t forget to tip your waitress.
Home is the nicest word there is. – Laura I. Wilder
Of course my real home these days is “Cowpoke Alley”. Home of the “herd”. Home of a thousand jiggers. Home of one BIG BLACK BAG. Actually, the black bag belongs to my blonde-to-the-brain roommate “Cinderella”, who is absolutely certain the world is going to end at any given moment, and goddammit, she’s going to be prepared. Socks, sweats, chonies, jammies, toothbrush, tampons, and tequila are carefully packed away so when Armageddon actually DOES ever come a knocking, she’ll be 12 steps ahead of everyone else. Unfortunately, she’ll be in the middle of her 42nd load of laundry, so The Grim Reaper may have to take a seat for awhile. I could go and on about Cinderella’s odd quirks, like locking/bolting/cementing house/window/car doors, sleeping with her bowling-ball-heavy purse, and swearing like a Pulp Fiction character, but she still does all the cooking, and I don’t want to take any chances. Yes, it’s never a dull moment at Cowpoke Alley, where the finches chatter, and the mutts nibble kibble, fight over chewies, and produce enough poop to fertilize the Gallo vineyards. Thank goodness we have The Food Network to keep us sane. More buttah!
Don’t you stay at home of evenings? Don’t you love a cushioned seat in a corner, by the fireside, with your slippers on your feet? – Oliver Wendell Holmes
So now that 2008 has begun, I feel compelled to thank my weird and wonderful family and friends for welcoming me back into the fold. It’s been great fun reconnecting with the finest bunch of people this side of the Rockies. With them, I’ve experienced shopping in Reedley, wine-tastings in Madera, late night ATV-ing in Friant, XMAS-Tree-Lane-walking, and the joy of donning rubber hospital gloves. I’ve survived crazy boat-race road trips to Redding and Chowchilla, warm dog days in Pismo Beach and Morro Bay, and that one off-the-map journey to a little town we like to call La Honda. Of which I may never recover. And let’s not forget the endless birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, occasional funerals, steaming hot summers, tulle-fog winters, sneaking into movies, bouts with crabby neighbors, dinner soirees, pool-party-BBQs, and 497 pitchers of strawberry margaritas. Yes, it’s true I hang out with my family all the time. Yes, I only have a handful of close friends. They’re not perfect, and neither am I. But then again, what’s wrong with that? True, the Fagans own a Silver Bullet. Yes, Margaret has overhead fan issues. The Staals live at Antenna Central, Uncle David has a psycho cat, Jill and Jeff have an entire MENAGERIE, and okay, we only used Rick for his pool this summer. And his polar air conditioning. And his “heroin.” But it just goes to show, you CAN have a life back home. You CAN enjoy Sunday dinner with the folks. You CAN share the best times of your life with the best people you know. Yes Virginia, you can, in fact, go home again.
One’s home is like a delicious piece of pie you order in a restaurant on a country road one cozy evening – the best piece of pie you have ever eaten in your life – and can never find again. After you leave home, you may find yourself feeling homesick, even if you have a new home that has nicer wallpaper and a more efficient dishwasher than the home in which you grew up. ~Lemony Snicket