16 July 2007

A Meditation on Home

In response to an LJ post on the nature of home by someone who's been my friend since 1985 :

Wherever we're together, that's my home...

Sometime in the last few weeks I heard Billy Joel's "You're My Home" again.* And at the risk of being uber-corny, there's a certain amount of truth to its sentiments, for friends (and food too, sure!) as much as--if not more so than!--for Significant Others.

On recent visits to Places We Wouldn't Mind Living** where our various friends have remained (New Haven) or landed (Philadelphia) or both (Athens, GA), I've said within a day or so (if not hour or so!) of arrival, "hey, you could get a job at ______ [academic institution] and I could get a job in the Jewish community and we could live here!!!" ... at least, until something happens to sober me up to the reality that this town is Not So Perfect (getting mugged at gunpoint in New Haven; getting fed up with the crappy road conditions/signage in Philly; dealing with drunken college students on the nighttime streets of Athens) and I realize that it's just that I like being around our amazing friends!!!

If you moved back to DC, I would be a very happy camper. New York, Philly, and most of the East Coast remain within easy and relatively cheap reach by train, bus, car, and discount airline, so wall-climbing should be avoidable. :)

There have been several times this summer when I've thought, "I really love this town. I wouldn't mind staying here! If there are to be any sprats, I wouldn't mind them growing up here like their mama. Sure, it's expensive & all, but hey! It is my hometown, and it's got a lot going for it!" (Funny: I, too, don't think of it as "home"--at least not yet--but I do think of it as "my hometown," more so than Louisville though I do say sometimes I'm "from Kentucky" as well as "from DC" or "Northern Virginia/Arlington.") The more friends of ours move here from elsewhere (Ruth! Amy L!), or move back here after being away (speedlime!), or we meet people we like in town (some AU colleagues + some shul and Jewish community people!), the more like "home" it begins to feel.

Wherever we're together--with people who make it feel like a place we would like to stay, like a real community--that's our home.

*Actually, it was almost certainly on one of my-and-Mike's many June anniversaries, probably June 26 [on which we met 20 years ago] or possibly June 24 [on which we saw each other again, as boyfriend & girlfriend, for the 1st time in 2 years, 18 years ago], because he was playing the tape I made him in high school of, um, "our songs" [please do not gakk; apologies for smooshyness] and it's on there. (They're not all sappy: it's got R.E.M. and The Pixies and The Who and The Sex Pistols and Guns 'n' Roses and INXS and stuff on it, so it's mostly not Romantic Floofy Stuff...)

**The category of Places We Wouldn't Mind Living generally excludes:

-- NYC: it has too little green space, & we have too little of the Long Green, to make living there comfortable for us;

--Atlanta: we love our friends there, and it's near Mike's family, but it otherwise seems a set of soulless traffic-jam-laden concentric circles of suburban whitebreaditude surrounding a hot muggy concrete dubious corporate skyscrapered New South downtown concrete jungle ("sometimes you just wanna say it/ the New South/ is an old lie/ you can smell it in the reconstructed dirt/ and you can read it in that skinny girl's eyes--/ the one wearing the brand-new Jesus Christ T-shirt" -- one of my favorite verses from "Katie" [alas, not up on http://www.scottdownes.com/songs, since it was part of the Snake Oil Salesmen repertoire and has not been revisited/resurrected on singer-songwriter Scott Downes's solo projects website]);

--Houston: see above, only we know fewer people there and it's not near most of our friends or relatives;

--Boston: I had my 4 years of 6-foot-snowpiles on the streetcorners and a winter that lasts from October until April or early May. Plus it has some of the worst road signage and drivers in the U.S. of A. No thanks! (We could be convinced, and we know lots of great people there, but I'd be happy if we never lived further north than New Haven again...);

--Louisville: it's okay, and my brother & his fiancee (who are cool peeps & fun to hang out with) and my uncle/aunt/cousin (ditto) and my parents and grandmother (who are, well, family!) all live there -- but it ain't all THAT exciting, and the academic institutions & Jewish community that are there would be a step down, not up, from where Mike is currently teaching & where we are currently living...

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