I am on vacation, back in beloved New England. Mountains, green everywhere—both deciduous and coniferous. And the smell of balsam is everywhere. My sweet husband is here for the first time, and I love seeing the wonder I his eyes as he sees this landscape for the first time. I won’t ever grow complacent about it or his wonder. The glassy lakes, the mountains, old mountains, covered to the top in trees so that as high as one looks there is green: A cradle of trees to embrace me as I head out each morning.
Yesterday we went down to the ocean, thank the gods. The sea, la mer, is a holy place. The beach is its altar, and I worship without reservation and with total abandon. Again, I am breathing in the perfumes of my childhood, and they are sweeter and more abundant than ever I remember. And K is here with me, perhaps not to worship, but to love---that in itself is a religion. Our religion. Coming back here—the last time I was here was the week after my father died—and many times and years before, always brought a sense of home; sights, scents, sounds. This year, here with K, now two years after my father has passed, nostalgia has threatened to overtake me with Unexpected Teary Moments, and even physical longings to speak to my father. Memories, of childhood, of my time with him that semester, the things he did for us as kids…silver queen corn from the farmer’s stand…impromptu trips for fresh soft ice cream after dinner…the smell of fresh warm fields mixed with the scent of freshly washed kid-hair. I have spoken of my father often during this trip. More than I have in a while. K’s been very patient, often chiming in with a memory or two of his own.
With each visit home, it is inevitable that I voice my desire to live here. And yet…I am simply not sure if I can live every day with so much nostalgia and so many memories conjured around each corner. It’s so beautiful here—the Plains of the Midwest are sad, brown, fallow fields by comparison, even in their fullest growth. Perhaps I am sad, brown and fallow on the Plains. This is more likely, since many people around me, including K, extol the virtues of said Plains. But it’s not that soil in which my parents are buried. Not there where I grew up in every way. Not there where I feel watered and nurtured.
I am there because my job is there. A job. It sounds so cheap. In my heart, it’s a crappy reason to be in a place; my head knows full well the fuel a job brings. As I get older—and I have aged in body, mind, and spirit since my parents died—I feel a job is a lame excuse to stay where I do not flourish. This seems not a wise notion but a childish one. However, I do know the wisdom of children, and the simple, pure knowledge they possess. I want to follow my heart, but I don’t think it’s healed completely. Pretty close though. I’m not entirely sure how much healing will happen---if there is any left to do. I think my heart will always be injured, and it matters how I work around it, succeed because of it, and care for it. <3