Last year, on a trip to DC, we spent some time chatting with a friend. Geoff is a stand-up comic, author and entrepreneur. We asked him what new projects he has in the works. He described a concept he was kicking around about “What is home?” Over the next couple of weeks, Greg and I delved into the question. In an attempt to not “steal” Geoff’s idea, we wrote our thoughts and shelved them. Last week, we saw Geoff again and shared what we’d written. Both he and his wife wanted to know why we hadn’t posted it yet … so … here you go … two days, same topic, different views … because we are both grateful for “home.”
Recently, a friend had a true epiphany, experienced while driving through the Deep South. He described it as a feeling of peace, a place where everything made sense. It felt like “home,” he said. It got me thinking, what do we really think of as home?
For several years before my mother died, we’d visit the Los Angeles area frequently (less so when COVID hit) to see her, other family and friends. I felt a sense of familiarity. I grew up there and spent half my adult life in and around the L.A. basin, so there’s a comfort level with the place that feels natural.
It wasn’t home.
On the same trip to our nation’s capital when our friend described his revelation, Judy and I both felt at ease in the places that were old stomping grounds. We saw friends, family and colleagues. We visited many of the places we frequented when we lived there. We didn’t need a map or GPS because we knew where to go.
It wasn’t home.
Moreover, walking briskly from our hotel to the Metro subway station, I confidently trod the same brick-lined sidewalks of Alexandria, Virginia the way a commuter does, not as a tourist. But then, and for the rest of the day, I was struck by an overwhelming sense of angst as I realized I no longer enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the city, and yearned for the peace and wide-open desert vistas of Arizona. I realized that as much as I enjoyed seeing my colleagues in person for the first time in nearly 20 months (and some for the first time as they joined AFTER the pandemic hit), I was annoyed by the amount of time rushing from physical meeting to physical meeting and hours of time in the rental car. I missed Judy terribly throughout the day, relieved to walk into our little studio hotel room each evening with a hearty “Honey, I’m home!” like a regular commuter.
Then I called Judy between meetings to ask how her day was going. She started crying. “Horrible,” she said. Among several disappointments in a single day, Judy sought to spend some time with her mother in the nursing home. Judy was bum-rushed by the woman who, in her state of dementia, didn’t even recognize her. Her sister insisted on us taking “mom” to dinner, even though it’s the only time I get to see the grandchildren. For Judy, seeing the “grands” is the saving grace; the reason for the trip. She confided that she no longer wished to come to DC with me when business calls. We’d rather figure out a way to bring the kids out to see us.
Because THAT is home. It’s not the PLACE we call home, it’s where we feel love, togetherness, joy, laughter, and peace. Even when I’m working, we’re close, even if we’re not talking. It’s where the grandkids can splash in the pool, run around and make noise, and make crazy food that sends my pulse into a tailspin. It’s where Stacy can relax and unwind with a glass of wine or a cocktail, unconcerned about the seemingly daily need to get the kids from one actively or another. It’s where the neighbors pick up our Amazon deliveries so they’re protected from the elements, and turn off the water because they saw a leak in a sprinkler pipe while we were away. It’s the same neighbors that cannot wait until we get back to join us (again) in another epic block party.
Home is a feeling of peace, love, and tranquility. It’s the beautiful sunset at the end of the day. It’s the perfect rainbow after a spring rainstorm. It’s the majesty of the mountains and canyons in the early morning light. It’s the simple touch from someone you love. It’s laughter with friends over a story you’ve heard countless times, but never tire of hearing. That’s why we often feel at “home” when we’re on vacation, because of the peace and tranquility we feel and the fellowship with the people we meet along the way who make the trip special.
There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. Remember that on the other side of the trip there’s a place you call home. Make sure it, too, is special.
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