Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

Returning home

"And she knew for sure now, she had to admit it to herself: in her heart she felt she was still on a journey; she had gone away but hoped to return".--from a Vilhelm Moberg novel

We have an old, mild joke in Arkansas to the effect that we love living in Arkansas so much that someday we will retire there. This is a recognition of the fact that for much of my life, one had to leave the state to find satisfying professional work.

But do you ever wonder how much of you is in bits and pieces in another place?

I know that part of me is in a small Methodist church in Marshall, Arkansas. Marshall is a bit of nothing town on the southern edge of the mountains. I have no real ties to Marshall, other than that when I was 20 or so, I went to a church service there during an out of town trip with a church group. A mentally challenged woman did a solo for the congregation. She lacked traditional musical skills, but everyone in that little congregation understood that she was giving her all. I cannot even remember for sure if she was playing an autoharp or an accordion. I know that a bit of me still lives in that church, on a winter day, hearing her off-key voice.

Part of me is in the "Pines" hiking trail, in the Angeles National Forest of Southern California, where I went to hike among chapparal not eight feet high, where after five p.m., birdsong enlivened the walk. I'd watch the day shimmer away, and the night air begin to cool things a bit. Part of me is in that cool evening air.

I once paddled a kayak on a mirror-glassy lake at Robbers Cave state park in Oklahoma. I'm sure I left some bit of me there.

Part of me is pacing the floor in a Superior Court department in Los Angeles, where a jury went out to deliberate my client's case, and I walked back and forth, wondering what amount the jury would award my client.

I'm sure that part of me is in mid-air, an imprint from my eyes, where I stared at an ultralight plane flying over cow pastures near Crandall, Texas. That's a coincidence, really, since another part of me is lost in a field of susan flowers off that same highway from my Peugeot bicycle days.

I like to call places "home". Trinity Trail is "home" for me. The ponds at the Park Hill Prairie are "home" for me. White Oak Lake is "home" for me. Of course, my own home is "home", as is my parents' home. Gurdon, Arkansas is "home" for me, though I've not lived there in 30 years.

But sometimes you leave a bit of "home" on the trail. You leave it lying on something you see, or something you do. You want to go back--and you do. You daydream and remember it. You even make nice little adjustments in it, just like moving the furniture at a house.

I make it my goal to find my home within, but also to make my home as wide-ranging as possible.

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