It isn’t time to think about returning home yet; I have another week and a couple of days before my vacation is over, but somehow that is what is on my mind. I have long had an idea that a new home isn’t really mine until I’ve gone away for a spell and returned to it. “Oh, right, this is where I live now,” I would think, and look at the new place with homecoming eyes – that perspective I encounter when I re-enter a place that I have left, and find a sense of solace, the warmth of home and the gladness of return – no matter how wonderful my time away has been. That sense of “this is where I belong now, my place in the universe.”
I must confess, the idea of returning to the condo that I have now lived in for 6 months, brings a little sadness amidst the expected joy of being again among my familiar earthly belongings. I suppose the disquiet is inspired by that hope that never seems to fade, in spite of all the logic my mind can muster, that Rosemary will be there waiting for me, and knowing that she won’t be.
Last night, I had an enormously enjoyable time at a cookout at a nearby friends’ house, where we were joined by another couple. We laughed and laughed, and talked of many things, including ghosts and guardian angels, and how the devout Catholic grandmother of one of the guests had made her young granddaughter wear her underpants when she took a bath. It would be an insult to the guardian angel to see her naked, the grandmother explained. And, after the gathering, when I returned to my vacation house, I carried back with me all the laughing we had shared at many stories whose particulars were lost in the sensation of having enjoyed good times with good friends.
Still smiling, I sat down on the sofa in the quiet, dark vacation house, and looked out at the glow of the full moon over the river. As I sank into the deep, long sofa, though, I felt tears on my face. Since the night of Rosemary’s death, when the full moon over the ocean had kept me company through the long hours by her bedside, vexation and distress has accompanied such views, and I thought my tears must be from this. I studied the photograph of Rosemary that I had placed on the mantle; I could see it in the moonlight that streamed through the patio doors, and she seemed pretty OK. Surely, this full moon did recall that difficult, earlier time – that may never entirely leave me – but these tears seemed to be caused by something else, some other heaviness that lurked, waiting to jump out and attract my attention. I just didn’t know what was triggering my despondency.
Then, it came to me, that it was the accumulated distress of the past months, all those alone weeks in my condo, and the relief of being with friends again. I could let myself experience that sadness, now that those times were behind me. In the winter, I had to hang on and not feel the despair in order to go forward, but now, now I could acknowledge how difficult those winter months had been.
I cried for a very long time; not crying really, just letting the tears run down my face. Finally, I picked up my cell phone and studied it. I wanted to stop crying, but it wasn’t happening. I thought, “Maybe I have a message from someone.” And, sure enough, there was one, from a new friend, Nika, a poet from Boston, who had visited the previous weekend.
Earlier in the day, I had forwarded her an ad for the architectural boat tours that circle Manhattan. When she had visited, I had suggested taking this tour as a possibility for her upcoming trip to New York. However, the ad happened to be in Spanish – they were announcing that they were adding a Spanish- speaking tour to their offerings, and so, I had added a note of explanation, “This is the NYC architecture tour place I mentioned. They have one in English too.”
Nika had answered, “Well, thank God there’s one in English.” And she had added a wink emoji.
It was enough. I laughed out loud. I don’t know why it struck me so funny. I laughed as hard as I had been crying –one of those crying laughs that could go either way, but it hit the note that I needed at the moment. I reread it several times and laughed each time. It wasn’t all that funny, really, but at that moment, it was hysterical. I was reminded that no matter how I went away, in body or mind, I had to keep coming back to my present reality. It wasn’t February, and I wasn’t alone. I was surrounded by summer and good friends, and the next days would bring more – my proprioceptive writing group, my grandkids coming from Boston, my writing coach coming from the City, and more visitors next week. And reading and laughing at Nika’s flippant remark brought me to the homecoming perspective I needed: “This is where you are now. Enjoy.”