I lived in Seattle longer than I lived in what I still call my home town of Santa Rosa, California located in the aptly named “Valley of the Moon”, but since my dad is still there it will always be my home.
Since I left Santa Rosa, a small place called the Russian River Brewery brewed the number one IPA in the country, Pliny the Younger, a triple IPA which is released once a year in February. After waiting in a very strictly controlled 3 hour line, John got the chance to taste it again. On this journey, we have established that we absolutely must take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself to us, and although we didn't actually plan our February arrival to Santa Rosa, John was sure glad that the timing worked out.
So much forward momentum has surrounded the planning and execution of this trip, and being a little more than one month in, we have really only just gotten started on our journey. So it is quite strange to be pulled back into the past with a short visit to my home town so early in the trip, a place where I don't have to look at a map to know the street names.
At the grocery store, I ran into a friend who used to live across the street when we were very young. I think I was 13 when I met Kim, who was something like 5 years old. She and her older sister Michelle were the youngest on the block, the "tag alongs" in our gang of kids that we tolerated for the mere fact that they were the first to get a swimming pool.
Hot California summers were easy in our little protected world of suburbia. Swimming for hours at a time until our fingers turned into prunes, laying on the hot driveway to dry off, making french toast for lunch every day, then jumping back in the pool until dusk when we would be on the lookout for the parade of dad's coming home from work.
Michelle and Kim's mom MaryAnne, a short Italian woman with an adorable pixie bob, made cream puffs for just about every party hosted on the block. We often giggled every time she would unveil them, but cream puffs were her signature item, and she was very proud of them. To this day I think about MaryAnne every time I eat one and dream of the day I will be known for something.
Going home always brings with it a river of memories, but it also reminds you that you have changed, or at least you think you have, and this place just doesn’t work any more. Returning home allowed me to enjoy those last sips of reminiscing my life behind, but I definitely struggle with the burden of having just one foot in the past, and I would much rather look forward to moving on to the next chapter.
What is strange is that you never quite feel at home in the traditional sense in a mobile existence. You have to always look at maps, you have to make quick and constant choices because you have no idea whether there is a better coffee shop. The cheeseballs say home is where the heart is, and guess that is true. But being home can also be stagnating and filled with obligations of the past. With an open road in front of us as I leave my childhood home again, I am filled with excitement and anticipation of the uncertainties ahead of us.