Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A homebody, still

I was accused recently of being "just like" my parents. It was not meant as a compliment. The trait being critiqued was my readiness to go home from a weekend away. My parents, who died six years ago, could never relax and unwind while visiting at our house, though we tried to make them feel at home and would allow them to follow whatever schedule or pursue whatever activity they desired.

In their defense, they used to talk about my uncle, my mother's sister's husband, who was perfectly willing to take long road trips wherever my aunt wanted to go, but once he arrived at his destination, he was ready to turn the car 180 degrees and head home again. His attitude allegedly was: Here it is; you've seen it; now let's go home. My parents at least were willing to stay a night or two before turning around.

There's no question that I enjoy being at home. I like sleeping in my own bed, preferably with my wife by my side. I rarely sleep well in a strange bed, no matter how luxurious the accommodations. And I worry that something might be going wrong at home — a fire, a burst water pipe, a burglary, a falling tree. But I also enjoy going places and seeing things and enjoying life and places with other people. I enjoy those things enough to endure a few restless nights and some anxiety over whether the house is OK, did I turn the oven off and is the dog being properly cared for.

No matter how much I enjoy getting away, however, I still enjoy returning home. Only during one stretch of my life did I dread returning home. It was when we lived in a second-floor condominium in Danville, Va. We would go to my father-in-law's house on Lake Norman and spend a glorious week swimming and relaxing and playing with the children. The return to Danville, to our little condo and to my stressful, oppressive night-shift job, was torture.

Since escaping that situation, however, I can wholeheartedly agree with Dorothy: "There's no place like home."

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