|My old home, circa 1960|
My birthplace and home is in a city nestled up against the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California. Although I lived in the San Joaquin Valley for about 20 of my adult years, while I felt "at home" there, it never felt like "home." Does that make sense? The reason is that it was just too different geographically from where I grew up. I grew up surrounded by hills, in an area where June Gloom, Santa Ana winds and coastal haze were all on the menu, and nothing in the valley spoke to any of those things.
Eventually I found myself longing for home, once again. But not the Southern California of today. Those 20 years I was gone have morphed it into something unrecognizable to me. No, I'm talking about the Southern California of my childhood, from the 1960's.
When I was a child people who lived in the hills above Los Angeles still owned horses and had fruit trees and vegetable gardens. We didn't, but I always envied family friends who did. There was plenty of un-constructed no-man's lands to hike and roam on. The beach was 35 minutes away, because the freeways flowed and traffic was not really an issue. And if you wanted to own a small farm, there were plenty of one or two acre lots up in the La Canada or Sunland areas to be had, for not too much money.
I've ended up in a geographic region that's very similar to my childhood home, and there's a deep, abiding comfort in that. In most ways it's an improvement on the specific house and city I grew up in, but in the important ways, it's the same. The sunlight through the eucalyptus, the warm winds that start up at sundown, all bring me back to a good time in my life. I think that for every man or woman, there is something they long to re-capture in either their childhood or young adulthood, and as a person heads into the second half of their life, those things crop up in thoughts and in dreams, demanding to be brought back into your life, once again, in one way or another.
You can't go home, yet in some ways you have to, or you will cease to thrive inside. The need to come full circle is in us all, in differing ways. And only we know how to honor that need best.