As I stared at the playground, a long buried memory percolated to the forefront of my consciousness. I must have been around 8 years old, a little after my father died. I am playing by myself on the jungle gym, and glance longingly at the street in front of me. I am overtaken by a great sense of loneliness. I want to run down the street. I want to go home.
"Home", at that time, was the building I lived in.
Many years later, my mom remarried and we moved from Evanston (the city I was born in) to the neighboring town of Winnetka. A mere 13 years old, feeling myself the center of the universe, I resisted the move wholeheartedly. For years I mourned the departure from my beloved city. Only a few miles apart, the emotional distance seemed immense.
I pined for my old neighborhood. I dreamed of riding my bike down the old streets to my favorite places. I was so in love, that years later, I returned to build a family.
"Home", at that time, was the town I was born in.
As I got older, I found solace not in places or things, but in people. My interest turned to the amorphous task of building relationships. Acquaintances, friends, lovers. People and personalities became a currency by which to measure happiness. I bathed in the luscious glow of humanity. I gave and I took.
"Home" became the people I surrounded myself with.
Recently, I have begun to believe that "home" is something much more personal, more internal. Maybe it is a construct based on those people, places, and things that make us feel most connected, most safe.
And driving by my childhood elementary school this sunny afternoon, on my way to the nursing facility, which will be followed by a jog with my wife, and then a walk to pick up the kids...
I feel as if, for possibly just this fleeting moment,
I have finally come home.