Friday, August 08, 2008
... I wish I was/ homeward bound ... home! where my thoughts escape me ... those lyrics were stuck in my head all during the last two weeks of July. Why?
I returned to the place of my birth, after an eleven-year absence, last weekend. I lived in the Texas panhandle until I was 12. It was kind of weird to me that I'd been gone from my native town for almost as long as I'd lived there to begin with.
We went for the wedding of a dear cousin and it was a much-needed escape. Frankly, I think I could've used an additional 2 or 3 days there. Going back home it felt like a favored sweater: safe and familiar. I remembered the streets and routes, for the most part. There's Grandpa's old church; there's our old church; there's my grade school; there's my favorite donut place in the world; that's where we saw a tornado in the early 80s (a field now populated by houses); there's the odor of the feed lots 60 miles away on the wind; there's where Honey and I spent an afternoon making out when we were young lovers and he came to visit me when I spent a summer here in college. It's a town that I relished revisiting and look forward to revisiting. After we moved, when I was in junior high (the wrongest time to ever uproot a child, by the way) to a very, very small town in Southwest Texas so amazingly far from anywhere that you had drive 3 hours just to do anything, my native town was even more dear to me. We returned several times a year during the 90s to visit friends and family. And my parents still trek there at least once a year.
But I also feel like my relationship with my native city has changed. I've grown and developed my own life. And as much as I love my native town, as much as it'll always be home to me, and feel safe, familiar and happy, my relationship with it is almost similar now to my relationship with my parents. I love my parents endlessly. I appreciate everything they've ever done and still do for me, but I wouldn't want to live with them again, if I could avoid it.
It's the same with the native town. It'll always be home and I want to keep revisiting it, because I love it, but I wouldn't want to live there again. There are definitely worse places to live, and if it came up that we needed to move there, I could easily do it; I just wouldn't seek it out.
However, visiting got me thinking about what kind of lifestyle I want. I think about that occasionally, but the last two or three weeks, it's really been on my mind. Going to home to a place where there is NO SUCH THING as rush hour, where family hews together and people are home by 5:15 at the latest, surged the question the front of my mind. Honey and I have always said we'll move west again, seeking a slower pace of life, and I suspect we'll do it at some point - probably after we have kids. But where west? And frankly, after a couple of years when I was aching to move west again, I'm really enjoying where we are right now, I simply want a break from the hyper-acheivement and suffocating time-crunch of this area. I typically get to work between 8:30 and 9, often earlier (though today, I'm allowing myself 9) and don't get home till well after 6, sometimes well after 7. It's often the same for Honey - worse even, seeing as how he goes in earlier than I do. It's been particularly hectic for the last two months and only promises to get worse into the fall. (That's why I've been posting and commenting so infrequently, lately.)
Calvin Trillin, in an interview with Diane Rehm, or maybe Terri Gross, once said he wanted his kids, though raised in Brooklyn, to think they were being raised in Kansas, where he grew up. I think that's what I want, not just that my kids think they're in West Texas, but I want some West Texas here, on the East Coast amidst the 70% humidity, the over-acheivers and the road rage. I really like where I live; I just want to like my life more. I want to breathe.
Oh, and as for the mixtape above. Just a sampling of the soundtrack for the weekend.
1. At the Zoo - Simon and Garfunkel. Every morning, we had a home-cooked breakfast at my aunt and uncle's house. They made sure to have music playing at meal times. One morning the selection was Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel. This was one of them. I simply included it, because I love this song and hadn't heard it in years.
2. The Dress Looks Nice on You - Sufjan Stevens. My dear, dear cousin used this as her processional. She's 22. She's one of the few youngsters who I think is mature enough to make this leap. The ceremony was really low-key (literally a backyard event) and though religious, they chose not to use any religious music. I think their recessional was from The Beatles. I'm ambivalent about the choice of song, but I love that she loved it, and that she bucked panhandle norms: a wreath of flowers and ivy on her head, little make-up, eastern-inspired jewelery, barefoot under her gown, walking herself down the aisle ... she, like me for my wedding, wanted to do henna tattoos on her hands, but didn't know anyone who could do it. (Had I known, I'd've offered Virginia Gal's talents!)
3. Our Town - Iris Dement. As we drove around town one afternoon, Mom was lamenting the changes that have occurred in our old stomping grounds. (Though I was also struck by how little had changed in decade.) This song happened to be on my iPod and popped up on our connecting flight from DFW. It just felt fitting.
4. Viva la Vida - Coldplay. Another one that popped up on my iPod, on the return flight. I'd heard it a time or two, but it hadn't really grabbed me yet. I think it ciezed me this weekend - and I've been unable to shake it since - because going home to the far slower pace of life, to sunrises unimpeded by mountains and hills and skyscrapers, to the constant 10 or 15 mph breeze and the negligible humidity, was nothing short of reviving. My happiest self is a sprite who soars among clouds and stars and skims close to the ground. This weekend tickled her again for the first time in years. I was weightless. And for some reason, this song, at this moment, found that chink in my armor to sing to that weightlessness.