|I am 4th from the left, last row back.|
So this last weekend I went down to Los Angeles for a reunion of the cast of "American Bandstand," which was a television show I was a regular dancer on from about 1977 - 1979, when I was a teen/young adult. For me, those were the height of my "city" years. We clubbed until dawn, grabbed expresso at all-night coffeehouses, taped the show, and somehow dragged ourselves off to work and college when we weren't doing that....crawling through traffic, living in crappy apartments, eating and drinking in dive bistros and chic eateries and, generally, living life in the fast lane (within which there was usually a traffic jam, so not so fast, really).
So how does someone born and raised in the city, well-versed in city life and activities, end up working a homestead in a rural part of the state? That answer was simple: I became who I was supposed to be. Anyone who lives a fundamentally different lifestyle than the one they grew up with knows exactly what I'm talking about.
Sometimes you just get mailed to the wrong address at birth. It happens.
Yet for those who are raised in those "foreign" environments, we can often learn to be a pretty good mimic where the outside world is concerned. Just like any place you live long enough, you learn the lingo and adopt activities that allow you to fit in. In short, you become the guy in Rome who did as the Romans did. He blended in, in order to survive.
But at some point, your deeper nature will surface, as it did with me at about age 28. I say deeper nature because deep down, I have always belonged in nature or out in the country much more than on on some nightclub floor or 4 a.m. coffeehouse. As a really small child I vividly remember driving out of Los Angeles, over the Grapevine (Interstate 5) into the rolling farmlands of the Central Valley to visit relatives, and feeling like I was coming home. Which, it turns out, was exactly what I was doing -- just 20 years too early.
|but this is Home.|
Yet, thankfully, there is no time limit on coming home and no reason why the first place you live should be "home" for you if you don't really feel at home there. Home is where your soul comes to rest. You might find it at birth or age 70, but the later age does not invalidate the fact that its true. Every soul has a compass that points true north (or south, east or west in reality), and until you heed the pull and go to where it's telling you, you will always feel a little out of place, deep down inside you. You may look like the rest of them, but you're not really one of them, and you know it.
And yet, by being born in a land foreign to your soul, you do learn to be a citizen of two worlds. So when I went down to Los Angeles for my reunion weekend, on the outside I fit right in. I like that, and hope I can always do that. To be a citizen of two places surely cannot be anything but a privilege. But to know which one is home is the true gift. And for me, to head back, out of the city and to a place where I can see the Milky Way at night and there's no hum of the freeway off in the distance is both a tremendous comfort and something that makes me realize how lucky I was to seek -- and to finally find -- Home.