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"I'm a pigeon, for sure, but not entirely one of the Homing variety."

Scientists say that it's an instinct, an irrepressible urge to return home, so they refer to it as The Homing Instinct. This label contributes nothing to my understanding of the phenomenon, though I personally experience it when returning from some travel. As the scenery becomes increasingly familiar, I start feeling like my old self again, my traveling self sliding back onto the back shelf next to where my suitcase lies between excursions. I'm a fine traveler, able to smoothly adapt to a wide range of different environments. Within a half hour of arriving, I will have located some place where I can reliably score my morning decaf and a serviceable slice of bread. I've packed methodically, so everything I might need stays ready to hand, whatever the brand name on the side of that night's hotel. I grow used to the simplicity of the traveling life, a single bag carrying all my necessities. My guitar case hogging more than its fair share of space. My knapsack haphazardly stuffed wherever it finally fits. That's it, my entire traveling kit. I'm able to carry it all in one trip in from the car.

Home presents a wholly different sort of challenge.
Even at home, my necessities remain small. Sure, I have a few more choices of shirt in the morning, but I reliably select one of the same three or four I carried on board with me. Home seems largely filled with extraneous stuff, once-in-a-blue moon contingencies and sentimentals I've not yet found the gumption to jettison. It holds my sacred kitchen, for sure, and after three weeks on the road, my guts are way past ready for a home-cooked meal, though the home won't be doing the cooking, I will. The Muse will pay the bills while I try to get my back straightened out. Those long driving hours felt like agony personified, but I somehow persevered to end up back here, home. I'm almost immediately bored with the possibilities here.

I've grown to question my instincts. Call it the final acculturation, but I've learned that my senses don't always come to the most sensible conclusions. I make decisions I later regret, my gut instincts seemingly more aligned to some pie-in-the-sky ideal than the genuinely practical. My home holds the detritus from a thousand small choices which combined to deeply influence who I've become today. I store my stuff away and slip into a patterned existence again. I know for certain what tomorrow will bring me here, no "where shall we wander to today, dears" over morning Joe. I will drive in the same narrowing highways between the very same familiars without hardly ever stumbling upon some delight along the way. Home is where routine lives cowering from adventure. I seem indentured here.

I walk through the old familiar door and feel responsibility overtake me. The lawn wants mowing. The jade plant dropped half its leaves in our absence, and somebody's gonna have to clean that up. The deck garden, decimated by hail in our absence, needs some fine grooming, though the giant geranium seems to have genuinely loved losing most of its foliage because it's blooming like never before. Chores pile up before me as I wander through the place, not quite entirely ready to reinhabit my space. More than my instincts brought me here and more than my instincts will hold me here until I wander away again. I somehow feel more alive out there where I'm never completely certain of where or who I am. My instincts might have guided me home but I know myself to be much more than any run-of-the-mill homing pigeon. I'm a pigeon, for sure, but not entirely one of the Homing variety. Welcome home, anyway.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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