Sunday, July 4, 2010

4th July 2010

Here in the United States on America’s 234th birthday, there are fat robins, manicured lawns, and paved sidewalks. The TV news channel headlines with “Janet Jackson Discusses Oil Spill”. I went to bright, shiny Old Navy and bought a new swimsuit because mine went missing in action three days ago when I was packing and there is a party at the city/country club pool that I am going to attend tonight with my parents and next-door neighbors, with brokers and businessmen and young pregnant wives.

Today, I’m typing this sitting on the kitchen counter of my childhood home with my feet in the sink, my laptop balanced on my lap. This is the only place I can find to grab wifi (with permission) from a neighbor.

Yesterday, I was on an airplane miles and miles and miles above the Atlantic Ocean. The airplane was crammed full of people: There were the teenage missionaries with their braids and bandanas, the hunters who didn’t want to pay $40,000 to kill an elephant so shot a leopard instead, the dozen white American couples clutching their newly adopted Ethiopian babies, and me. The kid next to me was reading a self-help book about leadership on his iPad. I’d never seen an iPad before. The yellowing pages of the book I was reading (about Robin Hood in Sherwood) kept falling out after the binding cracked when I turned a page.

Two days ago, I was also up on airplanes, one of the members of the lucky minority of this world who periodically get to look down on the clouds and chase sunshine across the sky.

Three days ago, I was in Eastern Congo.


Derrill Watson said...

Any interest in doing an introspective on what "home" means to you by this point?

Rachel said...

Ha, that's a good idea!!! Who knows, though, what it means! People have been trying to figure that out forever, haven't they? Home is where the heart is, blah blah blah. Maybe I will try :)

Derrill Watson said...

I hope you do. Just asking you the question gave me a sudden spurt of self-realization I wanted to share with you. I posted this on the family blog, but since I'm under wifely orders not to publicize it, I'll just copy and paste the post (in a couple comments because it's too long). Thank you.

A man's home is his castle.
Home is where the heart is.
Home is where you hang your hat.
Home is where you clean up after your cat. (that's Mom)

I was writing a book review Friday by a woman who falls in love with every city (and most every person) she meets as soon as she gets there.

That's not me.

I imagined being on a job interview and while being driven back to the airport having someone ask me if I thought I would like living in their area. Now I'm not stupid, so I know the Right Answer is "Yes, I would really like to live here." (Please hire me.)

But my overly brutally honest answer was, "I tend to mock any place I live." I criticized Santa Barbara thoroughly as a teenager (pretty normal behavior, I'd say). I mocked Utah and Provo almost without mercy during my undergrad - letting up a little my senior year. I spent more time enduring and chuckling over Germany than immersing myself in it. Ithaca was never meant to be home, so I felt free to attack it every chance I get until a couple years ago when I decided it had gone on long enough and I might as well start to accept this place.

Derrill Watson said...

It suddenly hit me as I asked her. I know what home means to me.

Home is the Place I Return To.

I almost cry as I realize it. Our entire theology is based around the idea of leaving Home, going to a strange place full of temptation and trial, wanderers in a strange land, with finally returning Home as the ultimate goal. Return with Honor. I was on my mission when I realized that's what Heaven meant to me: returning Home.

At BYU, Home was Santa Barbara. To my mother's dismay, though, as soon as I got there I referred to my dorm room as Home. Back at the dorm room again, it was returning to the temple that felt most like Home.

Because of that, I'm starting to think, not only is this mobile home my Home, but to a certain extent my office is becoming Home; the church building is Home; the temple is Home; our best friends' apartment is Home; the little brook in the woods a short walk away is Home; even the grocery store I frequent and the buses I take are a little bit of Home. Someday, God willing, I will get out of here. And for the first time, I hope that someday I will return and rejoice to be Home.

Home is the Place I Return To. And now I know the answer I will give on a job interview, correct and honest, when I am asked if I would like to live there: "I would love to Return here and make this place a Home."

Derrill Watson said...

And yet. Only shortly after leaving Santa Barbara, I referred to it as The Second Garden of Eden. When Joy and I went back to Provo a couple years ago to introduce our newborn son to her family, it felt so wonderfully like home that I began thinking I could really enjoy not just going back to teach at BYU, but to live in Utah. That's when I started defending Utah to the denizens of Ithaca. When we went on our honeymoon, we spent some time in Germany and many of my favorite memories were the few days we spent back in my first area with people and streets I loved.

It's not about not being happy where I am or thinking I will finally be happy once I get somewhere else. I was very happy at BYU and knew I was. I was happy on my mission (for reasons not easily fathomed) and was not eager for it to be over. I enjoy life in Ithaca. There's so much to appreciate: greenery that makes Santa Barbara seem more a desert oasis, waterfalls and brooks within walking distance, a diverse and stimulating populace that brings together a cornucopia of cuisines and cultures.

Today I understand it better. [I describe reading your post and asking what home is to you.]

Murph said...

Well done. I was in that spot 7 months ago, but my holiday was Christmas. The juxtaposition between two worlds is unnerving. It still is after 'adjusting' back.

Welcome home and all the best!

s said...

home is where one wants to go back after a days work