What is returning home if not a search for a moment that truly matters, a quest for a particular event or experience that isn’t just a means to hurry on to the next one? The desire to return home is a desire to feel the exquisite and rare sensation that where one is, is where one is meant to be.
This is what home feels like.
…The lakes and the ponds have swelled with the recent rains and the air is full with the warring scents of ripening crabapples and blue-green algae. Tonight, my dad takes me and my brother Paul, my sisters, Nina and Susie, and a few kids from the neighborhood to a drive-in movie in the used pick-up truck he brought home last week. In the languid heat of a mid-summer Minnesota evening we climb into the back of the truck in our pajamas. And now, as the truck begins to roll, we lie down on our backs and watch the stars wax ever brighter as a reluctant sun tucks itself behind the gentle hills.
By the time we find a place to park and my dad comes back with the popcorn, the Hire’s root beer, and the Whoppers, most of us kids are fast asleep on the sleeping bags that he’d spread out in the bed of the truck. I wake up the next morning in my own bed, hardly conscious of being moved.
Returning home is hard, nigh on impossible. I can’t say I’ve ever really made it back. There’s a constant shifting that prevents it, an endless backsliding as we grope for purchase on the face of a planet that never quite feels safe or solid.
And how is a return home even possible? We are spirits after all, fragile souls come down to inhabit our delicate bodies, bodies in a constant state of inertia, tied down by the need for the fleeting things: warmth, sustenance, shelter, intimacy, acknowledgement, and power, power which we hope will stave off our innate sense of rootlessness.
Returning home requires that we actually stop when we reach our destination. But we can’t stop can we? At the heart of it, we are no more than spirit-vagabonds, staggering angels encased in flesh suits, trying to overcome the pull of desire, trying to bring meaning where there is none, trying constantly to unearth a sense of purpose in a world which swears up and down that that there never was such a thing, and that there will never be one.
The belief that there is no purpose seems especially difficult for those of us who are trying with all our might to tell the world that in fact, there is.