Who says you can’t go home?
Not this writer.
With my impending divorce infiltrating every aspect of my live, the one safe haven I have been able to return to again and again over the past nine months has been my parents’ home. Yes, the very home where I spent my entire childhood, exploring the woods, running through the fields, crying tears into my pillow over a teenage broken heart (the irony, I know), and basically where I grew up, grew out, and moved away.
Yet now I return when I need some respite from the weary world. It is a place where I am almost untouchable; no one can reach me from the safe confines of my parents’ home where their 80-year-old beings still watch over me, fiercely protective yet oh-so gentle and kind. They know what I need from the moment I arrive.
I come barreling into their tiny home with bags stuffed and overflowing – clothes, shoes, computer, books, notebooks. Basically, my traveling sideshow complete with my work supplies jammed into one leopard-print, sturdy bag. That bag contains my lifeline, and I truly never leave home without it.
My parents allow this disruption into their orderly, retired world. Actually, they welcome it as they have done for the nearly four decades since I left home. Creating chaos in my wake not only with the divorce and all the nonsense attached to it but with the number of emotions, baggage (both literal and figurative), and sadness weighing heavily on my shoulders.
Last weekend I found myself making the journey to Northeast PA once again where the temperature always drops at least ten degrees as I drive into and over the mountains. It is a beautiful drive and a peaceful valley which I am glad to still call home. It was the second major holiday I found myself at their table post-pandemic and without my children, but they welcomed me and comforted me as only parents truly know how to do.
When I am home, we spend time walking around my childhood town, reminiscing about people and events. Occasionally we stop in the local pub to grab a quick drink and engage in some lively conversation. Often, I find myself napping while they quietly tiptoe around the house, allowing me to restore my saturated energy.
But my favorite time comes when we simply sit and talk. They start telling me stories, some of which I know parts of while others are brand new, memories they have stored yet forgotten until this moment. This is the priceless part that makes this journey so worth it. This conversation, this storytelling would not be taking place if not for this pause in my personal life. And for that, I am forever grateful.
After an extended weekend visit, I head back to the place, which is my current home, but my heart is less heavy, my mind a bit lighter, and the new memories I take back are eternally stored within me. My father reminds me to call him when I get there, something he has been asking me to do forever when I pull out of his driveway, and this time I actually remember.
When I call, he greets me with a statement, telling me he wishes there was something he could do for me. I tell him this path is a journey for one. I also remind him that he and my mother have already done so much – the quiet space, the supportive hugs, the silent understanding. That is really all any daughter needs.
Yes, I will be going home again soon,