Sunday, February 29, 2004

52 Degrees and Rising

In four months almost to the day I will be driving yet another Ryder truck packed full with my belongings. This one I've been preparing for for about two years. It's the big one, the return home.

Perceptions of home retain their quality of the things you left for, what it couldn't give you, for no finite period of time. It lingers, in the front of your mind, on the tips of words you are surprised to find spilling out of your mouth to strangers when they ask polite questions about your place of birth. But all the while home remains your identity. I met James last night in the City. He checked my driver's license and asked what part of Texas I grew up in. "Austin" (me). "Born and raised" (him). And do you know what I did? I put my backpack down and gave him a hug. "I can tell you're from Texas" (him). James told me his whole building is full of people from the Lone Star State. I nodded because I understood. We leave, but we find each other out there.

I wasn't able to let go of those lingering perceptions of the things I left for until recently. When people move, there seems to be this great debate about whether one is running from something, or forever searching for something within a locale rather than within oneself. Moving from state to state doesn't seem to be an epidemic, so I wonder why people fear this as a harm to which their loved ones are susceptible. There is purpose in it--moving. Forward motion to give a dream a chance, to go to school, to see how a different environment suits your temperament, or sometimes to leave something behind that needs leaving.

When I left the Promised Land, it wasn't feeding me. I needed pushes in all sorts of ways, the sorts of ways an unfamiliar place can give you. I needed to stand alone, away from my identity for awhile, so as not to rely upon it. I needed to find out what did feed me, because I was good at things, I had friends and family near, but what mattered? I am someone who needs to know what matters, to get clear on that, as a foundation. Some people's foundations are built up nice and sturdy by their families, or maybe they're born with it, an innate sense of direction and self-knowledge. I've been building mine through the experience of the unknown.

The drive to test life isn't at the front of my mind anymore. It faded away, little by little, while other aspects made themselves known, like being close to loved ones. I ventured at first with the intention of relying upon myself. Then, I ventured to find folks I could rely upon. Stage 3: I'm not so much fighting anymore. I've got a lot of inner fight, a quality that serves to help things sit right within. It's like jostling all the flakes in a snow globe and following them as they gently lay down. The forward motion of moving has helped things settle inside; it's helped me be able to acknowledge the irreplaceable spaces where family, friends, and love hold me together. These revelations are with me to take wherever I go.

I'm going home because it's where I come from. The scenes outside the car window, I want to see again.

Last night an old friend of my brother's played guitar and sang at a venue on the Lower East Side. The performance was low-key, sometimes just Amy (the singer) on stage, at other times my sister-in-law joining her on back-up vocals, her husband blending in on piano, and my brother adding in rhythm on bass. Pieces of home. Where you come from. Your history and memory and makeup. Walking through Central Park yesterday winter was breaking into spring, fifty-two degrees outside.

No comments: