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01/26/2005 Archived Entry: "Home again"

Sorry to be late blogging my return. My phone and DSL service took longer to get back in service than expected.

HOME AGAIN. After four months in the Desert Hermitage, it felt strange to return. From dry brown sandstone to dripping evergreen trees -- even with three days to adjust, the transition is discombobulating.

The strangest thing, at first, was how little was strange. Sixty miles ago, I made the final turn off the interstate into my home "neighborhood." Nothing looked different. After four months away, you expect something to change, but for miles and miles nothing did. The grocery store in the next town over even has the same bulk-goods sale sign up that it had late last summer when I left. The business trying to sell two of its old-junker delivery vans is still peddling the pathetic rust heaps. The second-hand store still has pretty much the same assortment of ... whatever.

Then I turned up my road, which always feels strange and magical to me, no matter how many times I drive it. It's like making a turn that takes me out of the real world of cares and into a dream forest, far away from everything. And -- jolt! -- I discovered that my next-door neighbor had (just today, by the look of things) cut down all the trees around his cabin. His property, always dark and dense and utterly private, was bareass nekkid.

I used to own that cabin. I had some cutting done myself and carefully left those trees for privacy and aesthetics. The cabin was always hidden down in them, almost invisible until you were upon it. How dare he prefer sunlight to privacy and beauty? I didn't quite think to myself (while at the same time admitting he might have done himself a favor, letting in the sunshine and exposing the pretty little cabin to view).

Oh well, not my business. I drove on. "Next door" out here means his naked dirt is still too far down the hill for me to see.

Then I opened the gates and drove up to my own Cabin Sweet Cabin, finding it just like I'd left it. But once I stepped inside it looked completely foreign. So big after months in the Hermitage travel trailer! The sinks and stove seemed absurdly wide and luxurious. A real bathtub! Will wonders never cease? The ceramic tile I hadn't been crazy about looked elegant and luxurious (until the dogs muddy-pawed it). And none of it looked familiar. I couldn't even remember in which drawers and cabinets I kept things. Did I own a chair like that? And whose clothes were those in the closet bins? So strange ...

An hour later, it's all come back to me. Now it feels like Cabin Sweet Cabin again.

Even though the Desert Hermitage was full of its own wonders, like violently water-carved sandstone, petroglyphs, and high-walled canyons (and especially like warm, caring, independent friends), once my homeward route brought me into country that felt like mine, my heart lifted.

It's not just that this is home. It's that this spot in the world was, all my life, meant to be Home for me. I've lived here only for the last ten years or so. And only on and off, at that. I'm sure there are more beautiful places; I've been in some of them. But this is the place that's been calling out to me my whole life. Once I'm here, my heart never wants to leave, no matter how beautiful the rest of the world may be.

Posted by Claire @ 08:19 PM CST

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