My wife reminded me that five years ago today, we left Iowa in the rear-view for the Pacific Northwest. What a five years it has been.
Looking back on the closest thing I have to a diary, the personal posts on this site, I see things have faded and have been lost. Is it just time? Or the advance of old age and a brain entering its seventh decade of function? This past year has advanced a lot, and not at all in good ways for most of us.
The family went out for dinner for my wife’s name-feast yesterday. Some of my friends see me as inhabiting a bastion of liberal madness, but it’s still hard to find good vegan food to satisfy the young miss. A local chain began serving vegan burgers some months ago, but it’s all off the menu now. So we went Mexican instead. It was a good meal, but I felt fatigued at arriving home. I napped for a good long time–longer than I wanted as I feel the weird wakefulness of the early morning hours now. The rest of the family, even the cats, are in slumber now.
Twelve years ago, we departed Kansas City and missed the wedding of dear friends who were wed this day in 2008. A dozen orbits of the sun ago, and I wonder if we would recognize each other, not having seen ourselves faces to faces in that decade-plus?
Thirty-two years ago I left my hometown for the wide world. The summer of ’88 was super hot as I remember it. My new pastor generously housed me in the rectory until I found an apartment. I had never lived in air-conditioned “comfort” before. Maybe it seemed super-hot because of the shift between Midwest humidity and that distinctive chemical-smelling air. Of course, there were no pets, no cigarettes or coffee, no shelves of books, no locusts whining in trees, no street noises of a city, or the other sensory stimuli of my parents’ home–what I remembered growing up. But that summer involved exploring new roads around Illinois. A new home, though temporary as it turned out.
The last stop on memory lane was my first two-week stint at summer camp for Scouting. At age thirteen, would I have imagined my life’s course taking me from the star-studded skies of the Adirondack Mountains of New York to life near mountains across a continent? Things were just hatching in 1972. Now, I find the roads of living to be more than half-over: my professional career, my populated nest of family, and certainly my act of taking daily breath and bread. I have driven, walked, and made more pilgrimages in the past than I will in the future. The roads ahead are fewer, more narrow.
Bilbo Baggins’ song comes to mind:
Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Sometimes that search for a home takes us far indeed.
Image credit: By Steve Jurvetson – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23906915