Home, part 1

Recently we drove down to Seattle so that my wife could do a photo shoot at a favorite old park of ours (it’s the one I proposed to her at…). It’s been 4 years since we lived in Seattle. The dozen or so times we’ve been back since moving away, it always feels like a piece of my heart was ripped out when we left, and that going back puts it all back together, if even for a moment.

The bench that I proposed to Alex on. On the ground there is a plaque there that reads: "A respite for those who see beauty in all things"

The particular neighborhood we were in was Queen Anne. It is a very wealthy, beautiful neighborhood just North of downtown. On the street we were on, I could almost smell the money along with the cherry blossoms and dogwoods that lined the sidewalks. I don’t know that any of those houses were worth less than $800,000; many of them were worth more than 5 million. Part of this comes from the view many of the homes there enjoy. The homes also enjoy relative security from passersby such as myself. Many of them had gates in front of the driveways, or even in front of the walkways that led up to their front doors. Some are on a steep enough incline that you wouldn’t even bother looking for a way in. The separation was plain as day. I was welcome to look, but not to touch.

Walking down this street with the kids in tow in their double stroller, I ran a gambit of emotions.

Anger that people could live like this, so secluded from the rest of the world.

Jealousy because a part of me wanted to know what that type of life would feel like, to not have to worry about finances, to be able to enjoy the finer things in life and send my kids to a nice safe little private school.

Despair that I’ll never be able to provide that type of life for our children.

And then I turned that stroller East up a hill and huffed and puffed the three of us to the top. All those churning emotions just kind of faded away. Corbin got to see a fire truck with it’s lights on parked on the street to provide support to an EMT team that had arrived in at some public gathering for a medical emergency. We sat there, eating PB&J and talking about the hoses and lights and everything else that made his face light up.

Then we headed back down toward the park as Alex was finishing up her shoot. This time though, I didn’t feel jealousy or anger. No resentment. I’d rather be there on the street, talking to the passersby about the flowers along the road, the weather, the kids in prom outfits walking around getting their pictures taken. I realized then that it wasn’t the houses and the economic situation that had made me upset. I didn’t want to live so isolated as these people seemed to.

What had really been bothering me was that I was homesick. Deeply, desperately homesick. If you’ve followed this little blog at all, you’ll know that I lived the first 20 years of my life in Michigan, then moved to Seattle where I met Alex and we lived for 5 years. When I say I’m homesick, it isn’t for Michigan, but for Seattle.

In Seattle I could walk down the street and breathe in the city. There is life there, but more than that is a feeling of being alive. Seattle fits like my favorite hoodie. Comfortable and warm, but loose with enough breathing room that I’m never really restricted. When we go back there to visit, it feels like I never left. Seattle feels like home. If home is where the heart is, I’ve been missing a piece of my heart for the last 4 years.

At the same time, I feel right at home out in the middle of nowhere. Places where the only sounds are from the birds chirping and cedars creaking. Places where bon fires are encouraged and where a babbling stream serves as a sink and shower.

These two places share one thing in common; when I’m there, I feel alive, I feel surrounded by life. Out here in the suburbs, I’ve only ever felt like I’m living in a way. There isn’t much magic to be had in the ‘burbs. And where there is magic and life, that is where home is. In finding “home”, I look to something other than a place. It is something ethereal that can’t be touched, yet I also find it linked inextricably to my environment. I’m starting to find more and more that this great spiritual quest has everything to do with finding “home”.

I’ll have part 2 up in the next week or so. It will examine a bit about a connection to “home” and Zen.

Cheers.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Home, part 1

  1. Well it’s just good to read from you again! I’m curious about Pt 2. Portland is sure home for me , though I bet I could call the countryside home again (but not the midwest). Although there is *something* about the east-of-the-Rockies soundscape — the eastern birds — the cardinals, the blue jays, the mockingbirds that will always sound like “home” or the way a summer afternoon “should” sound.

  2. My aunt lived in Seattle and I always thought it was a beautiful city. There’s something undefinable about “Home”, a set of converging sensations that fits perfectly in the heart/mind. I don’t have any place that feels like “Home” and I’m finally at peace with that. Yet every so often, there will come a scent or felt sense of something and it says, “Home.”

    Looking forward to Part 2!

  3. Nice to see your reflective posts again.

    I am a former Seattle guy myself — 4 years. I truly miss the place but fate took me to Pennsylvania. I lived in Queen Ann for 3 months there in the beginning — great view of the Sound. I lived with my brother in one of the expensive homes you describe.

    Your anger-jealousy issue was interesting. I did not find the folks there isolated. I kayaked with some, mountain climbed with others. The baggage we all carry about wealth is usually our baggage. But I appreciated your struggle. My brother lives in orders-of-magnitude greater than I do with wealth. It is fun to share it with him occasionally.

    I am listening to birds now. There are beautiful rolling hills here. I still kayak in rivers. I am surrounded with my loving family. I still miss Seattle a lot. But I also miss Minneapolis, Madison, Kyoto, Chengdu, TaiNan, Ithaca, Kitty Hawk, Istanbul and many more places I have lived.

    Damn, I love far more than I should. ;-)

  4. “The baggage we all carry about wealth is usually our baggage.”

    Totally agree, though I’ve always felt sharp class divisions were present even when I wasn’t looking for them. It is just one of those feelings, though I’m certain my own projections help fuel them as well.