Monday, August 11, 2008
Home is... where the heart is, something you can never return to, where they have to love you whether they like you or not. All those definitions apply in one way or another, yet none of them can describe the sense of home.
I've had a lot of homes in my life, have had to leave a lot of them for assorted reasons, and the idea that you can't ever go back, not really, is as clear as glass. But you can go back to the memories, and as I do that, year after year when I visit Newport, I recapture some sense of what home was for me then.
The beach is my place... for whatever reason... Irish genes, childhood joys, the fact that we all evolved at some point from the sea, and Newport, Rhode Island, was the closest I ever got to living near the beach. You could say I lived near enough, all those years in Jacksonville, Florida, but the ocean was eighteen miles away. I lived near the river. The river is lovely, but it is not the beach.
The smell of salt, seaweed, decaying fish, the cool breeze off the water, the sound of waves slapping the sand, or crashing against rocks, the whole salty-sandy-sticky earthiness of the experience is what takes me away. Where do I go? I go to God. In the cosmic sense, I go to the beauty and breathtaking created world... the sheer expanse of blue sky scudded with clouds atop the equally majestic expanse of water below. But I also go inside. I remember things at random... childhood things, beach things, talks I've had with God that were never resolved, the choices I've made over a lifetime that have been wise or foolish, but have led me here... to now, to this latest place I call home.
Last night I unpacked. I pulled out my beach dress, the cover-up I wear over my bathing suit. It smelled of salt and seaweed and suntan lotion. I put it on and wore it to bed.