Thursday, October 21, 2010

Things I'm Grateful For - Part 8

I originally started this entry while on the plane ride to Florida, back from Massachusetts (my home state). Either the Xanax (necessary for my being able to fly – damn turbulence) was working overtime or the freshness of the trip was making the words rather bitter, so I shelved the entry until I had at least one full day “back to normal” with which to process the last couple of days.

Since moving to Florida in the summer of 2005, I have not been back to Massachusetts during the fall – admittedly my favorite time of year. This was not for any particular reason other than I just hadn’t made it up there. But I think, subliminally, I hadn’t made the journey north during the autumn because New England falls have a unique magic all their own; it captivates and enthralls you – even one such as me, who thought herself pretty immune to foliage – and you find yourself pricing houses and wondering how many cords of wood you’ll need for the upcoming winter.

"Downtown" Buckland, MA

As fate my begging would have it, I wound up working a trade show in Marlborough, MA this past weekend. My bosses bestowed their benevolence on me by allowing me to piggy-back a mini-vacation onto the trade show trip (it helped that it was significantly cheaper for the company for me to fly back on a Tuesday, rather than that Sunday).

Side note: The Boyfriend™ was born and raised in Florida. The furthest north he’s ever traveled, in this country, was to West Virginia (he was in Michigan when he was a baby, but that hardly counts, since he doesn’t really remember it).

Because I was already headed home, I begged and cajoled nagged The Boyfriend™ into coming with me, to see my roots. I figured it would be best to place myself “in context” by way of explaining some of my rather – to a Southern-born mind – eccentric way of being. In need of a vacation outside of Florida, The Boyfriend™ acquiesced and I picked him up from Logan Airport and we made our way to Western Mass.
The Boyfriend™ being intensely touristy. See the look on his face? Intense.

Side Note: There is an entire state west of Boston. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe – even the maps Enterprise Car Rental was handing out stopped exactly at Interstate 91 – but Western Mass exists. Where do you think people go to get liquor on a Sunday?

I pre-warned The Boyfriend™ -- who hates long car rides about as much as I hate flying – that there would be a lot of driving involved in this trip, mostly because my grandmothers now live 45 minutes apart from each other, and they were my priority for the day. Because The Boyfriend™ is delightful and incredibly understanding of my weirdness, he was mostly good-natured about my neurotic, road trip-filled behavior (the man seriously needs to be nominated for sainthood. I am no picnic – even on the best of days). I think it helped that my family was incredibly accepting of him (read: they just went along about their normal behavior, as if The Boyfriend™ had always been there), and he could just ease himself in.

The last time I was home, I was rather melancholic about it; home didn’t feel like home anymore. I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to be nomadic for a bit longer, until I either found where home was or I made peace with New England again, so I could return, but other than that didn’t pay my melancholy much mind. Home feels less so when you stay away long enough. It’s the nature of the beast.

I must’ve made peace with New England, when I wasn’t paying attention. Sometimes that happens to me – must be the perpetual distraction by shiny things.

While driving hither and yon, this quote from Rumi was a constant refrain in the back of my mind:

It may be that the satisfaction I need depends on my going away, so that when I’ve gone and come back, I’ll find it at home.

Suddenly, I was home. It wasn’t just the place I was from – this was home. A sense of peace overcame me and I was looking at familiar streets through a different set of eyes. I was aware of everything and the beauty of it all – how food tasted better, the water more pure. As poetically trite as this is, my heart literally sang with joy. HOME!

The Boyfriend™, apparently, feels similarly. That, let me assure you, was not something I was prepared for. In fact, I was prepared for everything but his falling in love with Massachusetts. After all, Florida is what he knows; it’s where he was born and raised. He’s always been within a stone’s throw of an ocean – and the Pioneer Valley is certainly not an ocean; and while the Connecticut River is pretty, it’s not nearly as warm as the Gulf of Mexico.

But I should’ve been prepared. I should’ve known that the foliage would be a succubus. I should’ve known that he’d experience the first good night’s sleep he’s had in a dog’s age (New England air has that effect). I should’ve recognized that one of the things that attracted me to The Boyfriend™ in the first place was a similarity in spirit to my beloved New England. Perhaps, it’s why I wanted to take him home for Halloween to begin with – I must’ve known on some level that he’d love it.

I knew I’d be weepy and nostalgic – even though home hadn’t felt like home for quite some time, I still miss the holy hell out of my family – and the Xanax would be doing double-duty to calm my frazzled flying nerves as well as my heartbreak at leaving my family, but I was prepared to suffer that alone. Turns out, I don’t have to. The Boyfriend™ misses home as much as I do.

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