Rendered Fat Content


Winslow Homer: The Dinner Horn (Blowing the Horn at Seaside), 1870
"The rest of that return trip flowed like liquid chocolate …"

The first arrival, that homecoming accompanied, if only in my head, by a small parade and speeches, sure seemed like the true arriving. A Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock sort of moment, but reflect for a second on just where those pilgrims landed. Not in a familiar neighborhood, but on a rocky and unpromising, utterly alien shoreline which they only intended to call their home. It was certainly not their home yet. They hadn't earned any right to claim ownership except for the fact that its then current inhabitants didn't believe in ownership. They were into stewardship instead, and generations of their people had earned the right to call it home by dint of more than their presence there. I imagine that later, ten years on, a pilgrim left to conduct some business back with the backers in England and, upon returning, experienced more of a homecoming, the first of a likely succession of them replayed wherever leaving then returning again. Homecoming sort of requires a home to come into, and cannot be rightfully claimed or experienced until returning after an absence.

And so it came to pass, that after three weeks of SettlingInto, The Muse and I left to visit family over the weekend.
We abandoned the house and the cats to the GrandOther's care and headed west. After such a long absence, the reunion was sweet, a return of sorts but also a fresh beginning. That world over there, while once our home, had not been our home for decades. We saw familiar places cloaked in newer guises and more or less knew our way around, including a couple of truly obscure secret passages that only a once-native would ever know existed, but it was not home. We were just visiting that asylum and would not be staying. Welcome, but obviously alien. Our exit set the stage. It seemed somehow picture perfect as if staged. Everything just fell into place. I believe that grace, should she visit, deals in small deceptions. Everything might seem just as ordinary as rain but with a subtle twist. It will seem to hold some tacit significance while appearing nothing but ordinary. It might, and often does, seem to exemplify nothing but in some way that renders it absolutely extraordinary, but so subtly that it rarely at first registers as anything special. One feels immersed so effortlessly in space that one would be excused for feeling suspicious and also for failing to produce any proof of any impending significance. A flow state overtakes which seems both unusual and utterly commonplace.

The message came in while we were transiting The Gorge, an extraordinary space at any time about to be rendered forever so for us. Offers had come in on the Colorado place, two that morning, after two weeks since we'd rejected that absurdly lowball initial one. One of the two seemed simply perfect, precisely what we'd expected from someone clearly taken with the place and excited at the prospect of making it their own. We tried to discredit the offer, feeling a little shocked at just how perfect it seemed, but failed to find a crack in its presentation. We explained to the relator that we'd need to study the fine print once returning home, but there was scant fine print, as if that bid had been written in fat crayon to ensure that it caught our attention. It did! The time since we'd left Colorado had been essentially a float. We still held responsibility for that place pending sale while we assumed responsibility for the place we'd call home. Both seemed alien then, one abandoned the other barely claimed. Living out of boxes hardly engenders a sense of place and absence tends to harden hearts more than soften them. We'd taken a gamble, a reasonable one, The Muse insisted, but one which could crumble if The Gods betrayed us. The Gods had spoken. We would not be abandoned. We could finally be back home again.

When we crested that last rise and the valley came into sight with Table Mountain still white and the valley spring green, it seemed really different than it had when we'd left just a few very short days before. Everything we passed seemed hyper familiar. Our destination beyond question. We slipped into town as a weary traveler might slip into a hot tub, at ease at last, all foreboding past. I knew for certain where we were going and we were unquestionably going home. A place, not an abstract concept. A presence, no longer an aspiration. A possession, I suppose, but less a piece of property owned than an integral part of us, a blessed reconnection filled with grace; the old home place once again experiencing the first of what promises to become a long succession of HomeComings to come. Sure, there's paperwork and details to complete and roadblocks as yet unseen which will most certainly compete with our sense of closure, but this deal was done the moment we received the message as I was passing a truck struggling through those uphill curves adjacent to Memaloose Island. The rest of that return trip flowed like liquid chocolate, like Homecomings always should. Home at last (again)!

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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