I keep asking myself, "Did I go home when Z and I visited Seattle for ten days?" Certainly my family was there and we were happy to be together again after spending our inheritance with them in Austria last December. But given Z had five weeks of summer holiday, why had I only booked ten days back in the States?
I've always been itinerate. I can't seem to stop moving. Relocating to England only added to my restlessness. There were great places we could travel to within a few hours. There were different cultures to experience after a short train journey. I was making new friends, re-discovering my love of writing, and finally seeing some definition to my post-baby belly after becoming a gym rat.
And then it all changed. C and I broke up. There was the upheaval and stress of moving to two different places, while loving Z and reassuring him. Now there is the stress of finding employment and figuring out life as a single mom.
So why not spend more time in my old home of Seattle? I remember last year feeling as though I hadn't made enough time for all the good friends I had there. Why reduce that even more? I think it's because I need to stop moving. Despite all the adventures we've been on over the past twenty years, there was always a part of me that held back because I was getting ready for the next big trip. There were friendships that I could have invested in, career paths that might have been more satisfying than the chaos of an emergency department (although the providers I worked with there were some of the most compassionate people I knew). I seemed to be functioning in the world as though all things were temporary.
And, to be Zen about it, all things ARE temporary. Houses, jobs, labor pain. But that doesn't excuse the fact that I couldn't seem to dedicate myself to much, and even then, how dedicated was I?
So I didn't want to leave St. Albans for long. I wanted us to spend some of the summer with our friends on a cold English beach. I wanted Z to experience Spy Camp. I wanted to get back onto the steep learning curve I'm climbing to acquire skills for new types of work. And though I cherish my family and friends in the States, I feel as though I need to stay put for awhile.
My home is in England now. And with it a new sense of purpose. A sense of excitement and focus and possibility. It's the start of a new chapter, a new book really. I have a fantasy that I'll live until 100 and so this is the midpoint of my life and I sure as hell better make the most of it. Starting with a good parenting relationship with C.
Having said all that, l want to express how grateful I am for the number of people who continue to want to spend time with me. It isn't until you try to see everyone you care about in a city of one million in the space of a week that you truly appreciate how quickly time can pass. In a few hours I re-connected with people by ignoring the day to day stuff and honing in on the meat: Are you happy? What's in your way? How are your relationships? How do your children affect you? What's it like living in a state that's legalized marijuana?
In every case I deepened my appreciation of each person and vowed that, next year, I would spend more time back in the place I've called home. And while I'm in England, a country where I'm starting to feel at home, I won't abandon those connections in order to move on. Moving on now means I continue to nurture that which nurtures me. So I guess for me 'home' is where my heart is. And ultimately my heart is with people, not with a place. A place is where I have put my physical self. A home is where my soul feels sheltered. Thank you, everyone, for your shelter.