Sunday, July 29, 2012

you can't go home again

photo: Raj Lulla Photography - taken with VSCO Cam

We moved back to Nebraska this week.  I called this place home for 21 of my 28 years of life so far.

Technically, we do not live in Omaha-proper, but I cannot bear to update my facebook "current city" information to reflect such a fact.  Metro area counts, right?

This morning, we will attend a church that my friend Ben started a few years ago, not the church of my childhood.  I have a hard time feeling like that church exists anymore.  Only two of the original families still attend there, and I hardly recognize anyone when I visit.  The pastor who started and led the church for 20-plus years no longer preaches there.  That may seem insignificant, but I heard him speak over 1,000 times when I was younger.  For me, his voice and those original people are the identity of that church much more than the building and sign out front.

Omaha (and its outlying areas - of which I am now a part) has changed a lot since I left five years ago.  New and bigger freeways and highways were erected.  The population nearly doubled.  A democratic presidential candidate took one of our electoral votes in the last election - something that had never happened in my lifetime.

I am working at the college I attended, but it relocated to the Omaha-area from the city where I matriculated 100 miles from here.  This move has provoked no small amount of jealousy in me, and I frequently remind current students how good they have it.

My living room, in addition to not being located in my childhood home, has a sock monkey, an ExerSaucer, and other various baby items and toys in it.  I was neither a husband or father last time I lived here. These roles have fundamentally and joyfully redefined the word "home" for me.

When I left as a young bachelor, home was a place I had to visit on vacation from my new residence in California.  Now it is defined by wherever my wife and daughter dwell with me, no matter the address.  The confluence of my city of origination and the home God has built around me still seems somewhat surreal.  I never really imagined the two would or even could coexist.

For all the ways in which everything is familiar here, multiple counterparts exist which are equally new and strange.  To say I "moved home" would be like putting on a red cape and calling myself Superman.  It may look strikingly similar, but the realities could not be farther apart.

I brought my home with me to the place where I grew up.  Not the items that filled 16 feet of Budget truck but the people who are the gravitational center of my universe and the identity that they help form around me.

"Going home" is no longer an option for me, and I am thankful for it.  I don't miss the aimless and lonely  subterranean existence in the quarters of my parents' home.  Thankful as I am for their generosity and renewed proximity, I have no desire to go back to the way things used to be.  Plus, my daughter brings them more joy than I possibly could, so I am quite sure they would never want it that way.

I have one of the rare joys in life: making a home in a place that is familiar, filled with happy memories, surrounded by loved ones, and brimming with potential for more.  The good life, indeed.

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