Archive | August, 2014

Coming Home, to a Place I’d Never Been Before

26 Aug

imagesKZERGDEMYou can go home again, at least if you’ve never been to that home before.  Sounds like a paradox, but I finally know what John Denver meant when he sang that line.  I’m living proof, living that same dream, so to speak.

I years had been from home—14 to be exact—leaving Kentucky just after 9/11.  I don’t know that it was that particular tragedy that finally extracted me from the mother ship like a ready barnacle or a more personal one that had occurred nearly 10 years earlier, making me ready to take off at the next report of the starting pistol.  I do know that it often does take a cataclysmic moment to unseat us, send us sailing for any other port in the storm. 

My catalyst (notice how close that word is to cataclysm?) was Kyle’s passing, though I wandered, wounded, the same worn paths, lost and lonely for 9 years following because I could not find an escape route.  Head down, I could only see, like Dilliard’s animals, the rut before me, restricting me from sustenance and salvation. Perhaps I felt I should be unhappy, considering.  Perhaps there was no one there to sing the “Happy” song, inviting me away.  Whatever, when I went, I went as far as I could go and stayed as long as I could stay.

You can’t run from your troubles, of course.  I knew that, and I knew I took them with me, as I took myself, but the change of venue really did help assuage my brokenness.  New faces, interesting places to fill the spaces inhabited by ghosts.  To send them sleeping in the shadows of some sorcerer’s spell, at the very least. 

Germany.  Ireland.  Cyprus.  Lithuania.  Hawaii, even Oklahoma.  Not to mention all the places I merely visited, from Turkey to Tanzania, St. Petersburg to Singapore.  Like Crosby, Stills, and Nash, I have been around the world.  Looking… for?  I still don’t know for sure, but, like those hippie friends I knew in college who lived between California and Kentucky on a self-described rubber band, I did know eventually I would be pulled back.  I only hoped I’d be ready for the return, the destination.  Home.

Midway isn’t exactly home.  Only a foreigner—a Yankee—would think there is no difference between this aptly-named little bluegrass village smack dab in the middle of Frankfort and Lexington, 72 miles east of Louisville.  Here I could return to trees and rain, stone fences my great-grandfather built, two-hundred years of history and horses—things I missed all over the world—without returning to the actual scene of the crime.  Here I could give myself permission to be a Kentuckian again, to breathe the life I love without choking on the smoky past settled in the hollers of the old home place just a piece down the road as the crow flies.

It’s like going back to live in the Kentucky of the 1940s, a decade I never knew, not even in infancy.  It’s like eating cake sweetened with Splenda and saving the calories.  It’s like home—but it isn’t home. Close but no cigar.  The aroma minus the tear-inducing sting.

And that’s just how I want it.  So I can come home again.  To this place I’ve never been before, and call it home.

 

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