Homesick? Nah. Just a backwards glance.
I’ve relocated more than any Army brat I’ve ever known.
From Derby town (Louisville, Kentucky) to Kansas City (both sides of the state line, by the way,) then up to Michigan where I lived on both the Lake Michigan and Lake Huron coasts, then to multiple spots in New Jersey, and a brief stint in Philadelphia.
It’s kinda like the Talking Heads when they sing, Life During Wartime: “I’ve changed my hairstyle so many times now / don’t know what I look like.”
I never found Louisville, Kentucky to be “home.” I was the misfit kid there; a Mozart n’ Mahler-loving kid who painted pictures and built model rockets while his dad drove to work for third shift as a sheet metal worker at Phillip Morris.
I know I heard mom mumble, “Where’d we go wrong?” at least a few times.
When people ask where “home” is, I have been known to say, “Kansas City’s my adopted home town.” And for a while, that was true. There are many memories associated with that very cosmopolitan outpost that have permanently—I think—defined parts of me, and those are parts I liked. The woman who rescued me from my duplicitous upbringing and loved me anyway came from there. She laid in the grass with me in Loose Park and on the great lawn of the Nelson Atkins while sharing “proper” pizza with me and tenderly chided me for grousing about getting grass stain on my pants.
She bore me three handsome sons and a devastating daughter. Her previous two girls are now striking women, and one lovingly calls me “Dad.” She introduced me to Scimeca’s, and gave me the courage to confront my teetotalling heritage to craft in me my now favorite vice: a love of great wine, beer, and a premium gin. KXTR, Mahler’s 8th symphony, Radio Day, Westport, Blue River Parkway, and the J.C. Nichols Fountain—they’re all seared into my mental film.
But despite all that, and the changes that have now defined her Now and my Now, Kansas City was just another portal. A grandly-etched one, but a doorway, nonetheless.
Upstairs now in a Cincinnati townhouse, separated from all of that, and in yet another home office that is emerging from boxes after 2 weeks, I am fresh from retouching my last New Jersey photos. I listened to two albums that meant—and mean—a lot to me and the little lady of Sicilian heritage from Kansas City while I worked: The Church’s Starfish and Priest=Aura. Both are very “portal appropriate” kinds of albums, and I’m very much looking forward to driving back to the northeast in a few weeks to see them perform live at Philly’s Trocadero. Yet now, as I write this and insert those images, more Talking Heads echoes from down other corridors:
You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
You may find yourself in another part of the world
You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
You my find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife
You may ask yourself, well…how did I get here?
Letting the days go by…
Into the blue again, after the money’s gone…
Logistically, this was absolutely the most stress free, pain free move I’ve ever experienced.
Emotionally, it was not painful, either.
But it was disconcerting. Very. I felt…distant from myself, and separated from a sense of permanence to anyone and anything. It was, and continues to be a surrender-experience; a leaf-in-a-stream kind of energy. I’m letting it take me where it wishes for a while, trusting that I’ll get a grip on a passing branch and eventually get my bearings.
While I’m floating, I’ve been sketching and writing. And I’ve identified a local model to complete a shoot that I had planned back in Jersey. I’ve also been absolutely up to my lower lip in corporate full time work, the kind that spills way over into your home life and threatens your weekends.
I’m pleased to say that the floating, disembodied aspect of this has been a blessing to me, insofar as coping with the corporate energy is concerned. I’m feeling rather teflon about it. The Me of me is thinking more like an artist and a writer, even while I’m fulfilling other duties. Tomorrow, I’m going to go have some large prints made, one of which will hang in my new living room. It’s the shot from the previous blog, of driving into the golden sky.
I do wonder if the driver of the car in that photo has any idea that they’ll be hanging on a Cincinnati living room wall…
That photo, taken the day after all the images in this blog’s edition were shot, will be a daily reminder that I’m a wanderer. That home is where I am now. And that Now is what you have, and all you’ll ever have. The power in the present moment is more than enough to sustain and fulfill.
I’m really good with that.
Despite the incredible frustrations of New Jersey, it was a powerful place in which to live. It has incredible diversity, and although it’s a frightfully expensive place to live, it offers more freedom than I realized—and is truly a beautiful state. Trenton and Newark be damned; the shore, the Delaware Water Gap, the hills around Princeton are all fabulous. These aspects of the state simply don’t get the press they deserve.
So far, the people in Cincy and northern Kentucky have been fabulous. Warm, friendly, conversationally easy. They’re inviting and open. Culturally, it’s been a reverse-shock. Every supermarket experience includes a random, friendly side-conversation. This never happened to me in Jersey. Granted, I’m not the most approachable guy; I learned to keep my head down and keep moving back in Louisville. Dad always wondered why… Now, I know why he wondered.