Monday, October 6, 2014


When I was a kid, I enjoyed family vacations, but weirdly my favorite part was always rolling back into the driveway after being away, opening the back door, and breathing in the smell and feel of my home again. It didn't matter if there had been adventures, relatives, rides, exciting events, swimming pools, beaches, hotels, or dinners out. My favorite part of any vacation, no matter how wonderful, was coming home.

I always felt a little odd about that, but one day I read a book called Meet the Austins by Madeleine L'Engle. Most people know her as the author of A Wrinkle in Time, but I knew her for over a dozen other books I read as a child, young adult, and later as an adult too. The book Meet the Austins is about a family and even though it was written in 1960, I found it completely relevant and meaningful. In the last chapter, the family goes on a vacation and has a great time...but the last paragraph describes them arriving back home, and the last line of the whole book is: "Maybe that's the best part of going away for a vacation— coming home again."

I remember feeling like the author of the book totally understood me.

Interestingly enough, Meet the Austins is about grief. It's about plenty of other things as well, especially life. I actually didn't realize until I started typing this post that one of the main themes of the book was grief. It was a book unlike any others of its time. I still think about it sometimes and still have my worn copy.

I've been thinking about the concept of home lately. The Wizard of Oz will reiterate time and time again that "there's no place like home," and it's a statement that's always rung true for me. Home is a precious place, an important feeling.

The problem is that nowhere feels like home now that Rick is gone.

I have spent 7.5 years in this house and that home feeling left with Rick. Years ago, before the show ended, I used to watch LOST every week at my parents' house with my mom. I'd leave Rick at home after dinner, watch the show with my mom, and because it was on late, I'd drive home after 11:00 pm in the dark. Every time I pulled in my driveway, slipped into the house quietly, and snuggled into bed next to Rick I had the distinct sense that home was a feeling, sometimes a person, an emotion... not a place.

I had the same feeling every night after grad school, when I'd drive home late alone and see Rick's notes to me waiting on the kitchen table. My brain would think, "Ah, I'm home." And it wasn't the walls and warmth, it wasn't the comforting stuff all around, it was the feeling of love and contentment that translated to "home."

I have a great house, all my basic needs, and two loving cats who make entering my house bearable. There is love here. But despite all I do have, I feel like a woman without a home. My home left the day Rick died.

I know that in time, the feeling of home will return. I know that all is not lost. I know that I can make my own home. I've been trying with valiant efforts. Rearranging, reorganizing, buying new things, getting rid of old, decorating, creating... it helps, but it doesn't give me that home feeling. It has nothing to do with needing to be married or even needing to be in a relationship. It's just that I had a sense of home that got stripped away. And I'm not exactly sure how to get it back. I miss that feeling. There are days when I feel like I'm searching and searching...because I want to go home...

I look forward to the day when I can pull into my driveway after a long trip, a weekend away, or even a work day...and feel that old familiar feeling... that best part of going away...the coming home again.

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