You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile, to escape to Europe and some foreign land, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing’s sake, back home to aestheticism, to one’s youthful idea of ‘the artist’ and the all-sufficiency of ‘art’ and ‘beauty’ and ‘love,’ back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country, to the cottage in Bermuda, away from all the strife and conflict of the world, back home to the father you have lost and have been looking for, back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time–back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”
It’s been there for two weeks, ever since I returned from New Mexico. Some kind of Oriole–if we are to trust my limited birding skills–flits out of it whenever I open the front door.
The other day I climbed up on a step ladder to see if there were any eggs in the nest. It was awfully quiet up there. When I stepped up on the top rung of the ladder, I touched the ceiling of the entry to steady myself. Three little necks stretched up, eyes closed and beaks gaping. I whisper-screamed for my daughter to come see it.
My beloved daughter is home for the summer after her first year of college. It’s a transition. And like all transitions, It’s trying at times. For both of us.
Her social calendar is chock-full. She’s galavanting off to catch up with friends at different events, as if Facebook isn’t enough.
Her academic calendar is chock-full. She’s taking Spanish at a local community college so she can take Spanish Literature in the Fall.
She’s driving all over town at all hours of the day and night in her father’s old Land Rover. In my opinion, she can’t have enough steel around her.
When she’s not home, I rarely worry about her. Now that she’s home, I worry all the time.
I worry when she doesn’t call to let me know she arrived safely at her destination.
I worry when she doesn’t call to let me know she’s returning five hours later than planned.
I worry when her plans to come home and help me clean the house unilaterally morph into spending the day with her friend Mary or Ali or Natasha. Note to all: I love you guys!
We’ve…umm…had our moments. She’s been on her own for a year and following house rules has her chomping at the bit.
This is her life to live and no longer mine to manage. Other people–not me–are the center of her universe. The world is her oyster and I am not a big fan of oysters, raw or cooked. She’s sowing her oats, and I eat oatmeal for breakfast, usually in the winter.
I’m all for that. While she’s been living her life, I’ve been living mine. I enjoy having the house to myself. Keeping my own schedule. Mostly, I enjoy not worrying.
Our new lives swirl around us while our old lives fade right in front of our eyes, a Polaroid frozen in time. Like going back to your hometown elementary school, everything seems smaller. More inconsequential. Dingy, even. My girl is an Amazon maiden and I am a Lilliputian mother.
When Thomas Wolfe wrote “You can’t go home again,” I think he meant that you can’t go home again as the same person. You are not the same and home is not the same, either.
You’ve changed, and in the time you’ve been gone, everything else has changed without you there as its witness. As difficult as transitions are, they are evidence of our evolving relationships and new points of view.
I went out on the back patio and discovered another nest with three grey chirpers in it. The wind kicked up a few days later and I found the nest on the ground. I sure hope they got out in time.