Home is Where the Heart Is

We returned “home” to Connecticut for Christmas, and it was at once paradoxically familiar and strange.

My first thought upon entering our home was “Wow! It is so cluttered!”  Nearly two decades of accumulation adds up.  My second thought was, “I have walked into a time warp“.  Flip flops littered the floor exactly where I had taken them off in haste before our move to London in August.  Outdated To Do lists sat idly on my desk.  The piles of books I meant to donate to Goodwill remained next to the stairs.  Everything was frozen in time.

On our first morning home, I prepared to take the girls to school to visit all their friends.  The time change worked in our favor, and for the first time in 10 years, the Dishners were ready to leave for GCDS early.  As I stepped into our old Suburban, Jackie turned to me and said, “You do still remember how to do this…right?”  I hadn’t driven in 4 months and had blissfully retired my chauffeur cap.  Nonetheless, like riding a bike, I was quickly back behind the wheel cursing under my breath as I stopped at every red light along the Post Road en route to Country Day.  Not a tube stop in sight to take me out of my misery.

Back at the house later that morning, I am embarrassed to admit that  I stood in awe, mouth agape, in front of our massive Sub Zero refrigerator.  “It’s so big!”  The door was heavy and the cavernous interior was quickly filled to capacity with holiday hoards.  I even marveled at the local grocery store, pushing my massive shopping cart and finding ample supplies of everything I needed conveniently stocked on endless shelves.  I actually enjoyed the experience!

After a few days, I began to feel truly “at home” once again.  My bed felt comfortable in all the right places as the mattress molded to my familiar form. The clutter felt embracing.  My life hummed along at a familiar pace.   I was planning carpools to the movies, hosting sleepovers, driving to play dates.  The only thing missing was Lucy, and I kept doing a double take every time I passed one of the many empty dog beds expecting to find her nestled in it.  (On a side note, I get daily email reports on Lucy’s holiday in Wales….she seems to be right “at home”!)

On Christmas day, we left Connecticut for Jackson Hole to vacation with the four families we have been skiing with for nearly 10 years.  This, too, is like a “home”.  The moment I step off the airplane in Wyoming, I smell the clear, crisp mountain air and see the iconic Teton landscape that never loses its appeal.  It’s like our own Big Chill as we return to familiar rituals: we dine in the same restaurants, ski down the same slopes, reunite with the same ski instructors, and catch up on our lives.  Only the children mark time as they morph with every year — lower voice registers, longer legs, mascara-laden lashes.  These friends are both familiar and familial; an extended family with whom we are “at home”.

Now, with the New Year approaching, we are ready to return to London, yet another “home”.  I am excited for all that the New Year promises:  new classes, new friends, new adventures, new visitors.  This home lacks a Past, a familiar stockpile of tradition and rituals.  It is exciting because it offers a Future, an open book filled with possibility.

I find myself in the strange position of  leaving “home” to go “home”.

In the end, the old adage holds true:  Home is where the heart is.

 

 

 

 

 

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