Thomas Wolf first told us back in 1940 “You Can’t Go Home Again”. He put into words the discovery many of have made many times in our lives. Today the Love Shack is nestled in a state campground in rural north Florida. The sun is gently raining down, the pup is quietly slumbering in the dirt and the cell signal is strong enough to nurture this blog. Some spots on this earth just seem so right. When the brilliant red cardinal landed 9 feet away on the fence post and the geese began a steady stream of V’s headed north overhead it was clear this is one of those spots.
Camping – at least as we practice it – makes me think of birds that launch themselves from branch to branch. I imagine that, like us, they no not precisely when it is time to take flight and when or where to perch next. It’s common to hear friends or fellow travelers ask of us “where next?”. Our shrug is often greeted with a smile and sometimes with a look that implies disbelief that such disorganized personlities persists in this age of electronic calendars and worldwide connectivity. Our gesture means that somehow this style just works for us.
Driving long distances north in winter brings to mind another flight metaphor. Like pilots bouncing across the continent we are aware that the weather where we touch down tonight or the next may not match the current conditions. Right now the northeast seems headed for a moderate thaw which means we may be able to glide north without a lot of environmental drama. Of course a travel trailer is a home on wheels so we need to take precautions to safeguard the plumbing. At some point we will pull off the road to pump anti-freeze through the system like the pilots who need to de-ice the wings. These are the calculations and strategies that tickle the modest adventurer in us.
Home for me has always been 76 Elm Street, Hoosick Falls NY. In the drama of our solitary lives the demise of our family home is one tragedy. Over the years since my parents died and the property was sold the place has appeared to shrink at that same rate as the once seeming perfect exterior has fallen into decay. I can visit the nearby graves but I can’t go to that home again.
Mostly people define home in terms of real estate. Our deed points to 98 Landing Park in Rochester. Certainly I am invested there in financial terms as well as the bond that flows from sweat equity. Still on some level that joint does not speak to me on the spiritual level I crave. Do these things grow like moss or ivy? The Love Shack on the other hand is endlessly compelling. Like a radio signal it calls to me with new intensity as we hop from spot to spot. We can’t go home again but we do seem to try again and again.