My Perfect Word: Hiraeth

You see, I don’t have a “home town.” A friend told me my hometown is where I was born.  This was a small town in Massachusetts which we moved away from when I was 18 months old.  Um. No.   Okay then, another friend said it is where you lived the longest.  There’s trouble in that assessment too:   MA was 18 months. IL was 3.5 years. NJ was 8 years. TX was 2 years, VA was two years first time, and two the second time, MI was 8 years, ME was 18 months, NH was 9 years, FL was 9 years and CA will be 4 years this month.

I don’t consider FL my home town even though I was there for nine years. I lived there from the age of 37 to the age of 45 and still have fantastic friends I miss terribly. One of my sons was born in Orlando.

But,  I find myself loving BEING in New England when I visit.  If I won lotto I would rent a house in Maine and that, to me, is telling (a feeling of home?).  But I would also rent a house in Tuscany, so we can throw that solution out the window too.

So, I still don’t have a “home town.”

I found myself wondering today if a road that was being widened in my FL town, before I moved away four years ago this month, was, indeed finished and if my riding stable was gone, a casualty of progress. And I thought maybe Google Earth would tell me.

Why do I secretly believe that when I leave a place it stays frozen in time, perhaps waiting for my return before it continues?  It’s similar to the feeling I had when my dad passed away:  somehow the world kept moving, went on without little old me, and people went on with their own lives oblivious to my loss and my partial wish that things would freeze/stop long enough for me to either catch my breath, or jump on that treadmill of time again. A feeling of “how dare you go on without me” hit me in the face and my insignificance with it.

And thus, it was a shock to virtually pay a visit to my old town in Florida today.  The road is widened. No evidence of the destruction I saw in 2010.  Happily the barn is still there. I perused the town at street view and found myself… homesick?  Place.. sick?  What is that?

When I lived in Florida I didn’t care for the weather (thunderstorms and hurricanes and tornadoes and hail and HUMIDITY), the schools (my younger son had a teacher that was laughably incompetent), I went through a bad divorce, and yet I had friends, a good job, easy drives,  a big house and..was that home?

What exactly is this? I am missing something… but what? I am guessing the house (the one I am in now is half the size) and the friends. The familiarity of it all:  I mean I did live there for 9 years.

I remember closing the shutters that were on the inside of the sliding doors in my house in Florida for the last time and thinking right then, “you need to remember how this sounds”.  In that moment I really registers all my senses: the hardwood floors under my feet, the high ceilings above me and the echo of my voice in the house, the view of the pool, and the amazing big kitchen.  I did a good job of imprinting this place on myself because I can easily recall it now. I lived in that house with my kids for two and a half years.  I miss that house tremendously because it’s where many emotional things happened, some good, some really awful.

But as I listen now, to the sounds of this house, and try to again, be in the moment I am struck by a few things:  It’s possible to miss a place that didn’t feel like home at all when I lived there, and I wonder what comes next in my life?  I look up at my sleeping cats and out at the bright California sun and I am thankful for it all.

I miss certain things about every place I have lived. That’s how I carry those places and people with me.  And that’s okay. Even if sometimes it makes me want to weep with an odd aching sadness.



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