Going Home

027About 30 months ago, I left Arizona after having lived there more than half my life. I had grown up in Racine, Wisconsin, and when I left for Arizona to go to graduate school, I had just turned 26.  A marriage, a divorce, and a couple careers later I was 55; my work-life was changing and my father’s health was failing. The decision to move back to Racine was made easier through a series of ever-longer visits back “home,” to the same house I grew up in, the nearby Great Lake, the change of seasons, the mix of industry and farming, and the community that somehow still knew me.

Twenty years ago, in conversation with  Karen P______, an AA friend, I heard some words that have been ringing in my ears ever since. We were talking about writing, a passion we shared. I had sent her a memoir I wrote the year before. She paid it a great compliment. When a story affected her as this one had, she insisted, she saw “colors.” The memoir is the title story of a small collection called The Rescue and Abduction of Cousin Joe (and other stories). She had immediately recognized the theme of it, the idea of a return of things to their proper place. But she put it much more profoundly.

    “All the best stories are about going home,” she declared.

The power in her declaration was not so much the literal truth of it—classical storytelling typically began with the hero leaving the village only to return years later with boons to bestow on one and all—but it was more the power in the interpretation of the last word: home. Home does not have to be a city and it doesn’t even have to be a place. It is close to “where the heart is.” It is even closer to heimat, a uniquely German term that creates a social context for being where you belong.

For me, home is about trying to indulge my better natures: teaching, writing, sharing–all while disappearing into a community that tacitly accepts me as a member–leaving me larger and slightly less individual for the effort. For me, home is a state of being where I am joined by social and natural lines of force to, well,…to them, and us, to here, to this.

Welcome to my blog and website. In a way, you’re standing on my virtual doorstep. If it feels inviting and something you would like to be part of, come on in and consider yourself a welcome visitor!



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