Homeward Bound

posted November 6, 2014

“The Purpose of an excursion, is that you go home again.”
– John Irving

Today marks 2 years in California for Molly and I.

In many ways it’s been great.

  1. The food scene is phenomenal.
  2. I left Massachusetts a new massage therapist and fell into an accidental career waiting for my license to transfer. One freelance gig lead to another, the most recent of which I honestly can’t believe I scored even for the few weeks they used me.
  3. We have two absurdly adorable pets we can’t imagine life without now.
  4. Two words: Craft. Beer.
  5. The weather is a miracle. Really. To a surreal degree it’s perfect almost everyday.
  6. We met some truly great people.

But even given all that-

We’re Leaving

We feel like we’ve been on vacation for 2 years. That may sound like a problem you’d love to have, but 2 years is a long time to feel like a tourist anywhere, no matter how glorious the weather and scenery. I’m a chatty Southern boy, with his heart on his sleeve and a hug for everyone. That’s translated great to just about everywhere else I’ve lived. I’ve always felt more Southern in New York or New England or Europe even. I was a cozy transplant. A happy nomad.

But California has come with often mind-boggling culture shock. I found a deeper sense of community (and felt more like a local) after a couple months in London than I do after a couple years here. It’s not California’s fault anymore than it’s mine, but I’m ready to come home.

Northampton, Massachusetts

Molly loves Northampton for different reasons than I do. Some days we’ve not been sure why we left in the first place. Molly had a job offer, but my excuse is pure hubris. All that sense of self I gained in Northampton I credited to who I was, never realizing what a real home means to a wanderer like me. I left Tennessee at 18 and never looked back, then NYC after a dozen years with an equal lack of regret. When I left Northampton 2 years ago, with dreams of California sunshine, I never thought twice really about what exactly I was leaving.

Kid Days

I first got to know Northampton because my grandparents ran a hotel there called The Autumn Inn. I have fond memories of being given my own room when we visited, and having run of the cafe when I was as young as 8. I’ve known a lot of freedom in my adult life, but ordering French Toast in a restaurant by myself at 8 is probably going to be one of my last ten memories on earth. It was my first big bite of independence and ranks up there with the PB & J I ate in the first apartment I rented on my own as a teenager.

Adult Years

In the six years I lived there before we moved I spent half of that getting to know Molly. Falling in love makes everything but the object of your affection melt into the background. Our first date we walked around Brattleboro before driving back into Northampton together. We took walks around Whiting Reservoir in Holyoke all the time, and our first fights were with a view of historic homes on Elm Street. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere without her, but it seems crazy to have missed that shared history before throwing everything into a place we hardly knew. Northampton was my first and only adult home. It took leaving it to realize that.

The Lesson?

I’m not exactly returning with my tail between my legs, but I did miss something big in the rush to leave snow behind. It seems so crazy now to have taken home for granted. Some people probably never get a sense of that anywhere. Maybe that isn’t for everyone. I think I wanted to believe I didn’t need it. After leaving all previous places I’d lived with hardly a second thought I never imagined I’d feel such a loss. But I do. It’s like I forgot a part of me there, and its hovering around Noho like a ghost trying to ask everyone where’d he go?

I don’t know what the hell it all means. I’m leaning towards nothing. It’s just a bunch of random stuff that happened to me. I’m far from beating myself up because I really do love a lot about life out here. As far as failed experiments go this is about the best place on earth to have one. I would do it again, no question, but I think it’d be easier a second time around. I’d know at the end of it I’d go home again.

The Comments

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  • Mmmm Hmmm! I feel the same way about Northampton. Thanks for reassuring how my heart feels. Good luck on the move. Happy to have you coming back :).
    Best of Luck,
    Colleen 🙂

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