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  • Well I looked into a house I once lived in
    Around the time I first went on my own
    When the roads were as many as the places I had dreamed of
    And my friends and I were one
    Now the distance has done, and the search has begun
    I’ve come to see where my beginnings have gone

    (Jackson Browne, from “Looking Into You”)
    Today we finally made it back home. After another evening in a house with a couple of cats, Kathy and I are just about wiped out, physically. Those cat allergies are absolutely murder on me, and this trip, they got to Kathy pretty badly, as well. But, oh, is it great to be back home!

    We did what we call a “Gratitude Run” this morning – after a great visit with my sister and some of her family last night in South Jersey, we stayed over at a hotel near their place, and this morning drove by our old house and neighborhood in Franklinville, N.J. The half hour drive from where we were to that old house, reminded me of how much living there never felt like “home” to me. We lived there for 11 years, from 4 months after we got married until we moved to Virginia, including J.B.’s first 6 ½ years. The more we drove through that dull, flat, colorless land, that appeared to be mostly unchanged in the 17 years since we moved from there, the more I felt like we had truly landed over the rainbow when we moved to Virginia.
  • I remembered how it felt, for most of the time that we lived there. I really thought we’d never get out of that place. Life was such a day to day struggle. We were always having to do major construction projects on the house, just to keep it from falling apart or sinking into the ground. It was nice to live on the lake, but other than that, there wasn’t much about the area that I liked. The people around us there really weren’t very friendly, at all. Most of our neighbors were busy-bodies with nothing better to do but talk about each other, and we really had very little to do with them, as a result. They didn’t like us and we didn’t like them. We would always have our friends out from the city on weekends, and there were great times. But it never did feel like home.

    I got a ton of gratitude driving by the old place. It didn’t look like the people who live there now have done a damn thing to keep it up, other than drop a few more of the trees that were closer to the house. The shed that I built, nearly 30 years ago, with major help from my friend Chuck, was still standing, barely. It didn’t look like it had been repainted once in all these years. The lake was even smaller than I remembered it. The yard had pretty much been let go to sandy dirt scrub. There actually once was enough grass to keep me busy with the lawn mower every other week in summertime, keeping it cut.
  • Coming back into Virginia, it seemed like everything was green, and our house just seemed huge. It’s really not that big by current day, McMansion standards, but compared to our old place, it’s a damn mansion in its own right. Getting out of the car, it felt warmer than it has since the day we left. How welcoming that slighly warm breeze was. It was only in the lower 50’s outside, but compared to the bitter cold we’ve been experiencing for the past week in Pennsylvania, it felt downright balmy.

    It’s so good to be home again – somewhere, over the rainbow – and definitely not in Kansas, Toto!
    Somewhere over the rainbow
    Bluebirds fly
    And the dreams that you dare to
    Oh why, oh why can't I?

    (From Israel Kamakawiwoole's version of "Over the Rainbow")
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