Friday, May 26, 2006

A little rambling. As always.

Going back to Kansas is hard for me. For lots of reasons. I spent a good part of my life wanting nothing more than to leave, see the rest of the world - explore what WASN'T Kansas. I was itching, begging, yearning to be set free from the state, that as far as I was concerned, had shown me all it had.

Don't get me wrong, though, I did, the minute I stepped foot in my new "home" of Sarasota, Florida, miss the great powerful winds, the earth-shaking thunderstorms, the clear crisp sun and sky on a summer day. I knew I had had it good and wonderful for a time. But I was ready to explore other places, other things. And in that first four years away, I discovered something else, too. That while Kansas had been "home," so could anywhere else I would be. My roots traveled with me.

I did end up moving back, though. I got a job, I returned to family. I started a grown-up life. But the pangs of leaving my just-recently-found home were as fresh and deep as when I had left Kansas the first time. Only now I yearned for endless blue ocean, the smell of salt and the laughter of friends coated in paint and chalk and charcoal.

My definition of home became refined. Sure it was bits of the place I was, the physical world that surrounded me. But even more it was who surrounded me. And that has stayed constant over the years no matter where I was. In fact, it gave me the courage to go wherever my heart told me to - knowing there would always be a place, somewhere - to go back to. That there would always be people to whom I could come home to - no matter where any of us were. In Kansas City home became defined by the Sarahs, in New York it's Sam; in every place I have ever been it is less what as it is whom. And, the dearest home I've had, the most lengthy and enduring has been the one I grew up in. Kansas has repeatedly served me well. It has unerringly given me people who are amazing and talented and wonderful and loving. And when I return to those vast plains, it is a chance to be closer to them and all the memories we created there together. Because, well, honestly, in the oast 13 years, I haven't been.

This has been a hard realization for me to come to terms with. Since I first left for college, I have always been the one who lives far away, the one moving away, the one just visiting. I have been the one who hoped for visits that were never quite doable, for stays that were never quite convenient. I was the one who got on the planes, or in the car, and traversed the miles. Because I could. Because it was easier for me. Because one traveling is easier than four. Easier then six. Easier than just two. Because it always felt I had to somehow make up for the fact that I chose to be far away. Though the kicker is - it never felt like a choice. It always felt like I was just following the path laid before me. And this continues to this day. Being the one far away. Being the one not there. And sometimes, oftentimes, it breaks my heart a little.

Because I want to be there. But at the same time, part of me believes even if I was there - I'd still be somehow outside. That it's too late. That it's not who I am. Or who they want from me. I fear being a close enough to be a part of all of the madness, the wonder, and being left out because it's never worked any differently. Sam says my fears are unfounded. Unfounded perhaps, but hard to shake.

And it's on my mind a lot. The question of our recent trip seemed to be "when are you coming home?" It's hard to answer. It's never as easy as "of course! I want to! Tomorrow!" Even though some days that's true. Especially the week after we return from the wide open spaces, big skies and awesome family. But then we get back here and I look around and think to myself, how could we possibly leave this city? How could we possibly give all this up?! I'm in love with this place in a way that's very hard to put words to. I always have been. And now that Sam is here with me, well. It is even more intoxicating and amazing than ever.

I think Sam and I share the feeling of somehow always being the one coming home from far away. There's good in that. It's not all sadness and isolation. Quite the opposite. There's independence and freedom and adventure. It really is just the two of us facing the world, and so far, we've been pretty kickass at it. We're planning world trips and picnics in Central Park. He's producing Mets specials and I'm working on a series of paintings to submit to a gallery. It feels, at times, we couldn't possibly exist anywhere else in the world. How could we?

I know we will someday. And someday, perhaps, we'll be back in Kansas. I can't say for sure. I know wherever we go it will be some where the two of us can be happy. That whatever path has led us here has done well so far, and we'll probably follow it to the end. Where the end is, however, is information I'm not quite privy to yet. But I trust it. Despite my fears and my missing and my anxiety about what may lie ahead, I do trust the world will, as it always has - take us where we're meant to be.

But I will confess that part me of hopes that's Kansas. Sam says that he can tell little Sarah and his family are definitely the one-two punch. And he's right. "The Divine Miss S is the final kick in the pants," and again he hits the nail on the head. But if there's one thing I've learned, it's that being the one far away isn't so bad.

I've been lucky. I've been blessed.

The people that have always made up MY home are always there waiting with a soft place to land. And who knows, maybe I'm just Taking the Long Way Around.

1 comment:

frazzledmom said...

As I learned the first time I met the entire Hagen one is ever on the outside! It was New Year's and I was flying home from Florida to be with Jeff, his family and the whole Chuck Hagen clan. My plane was late, Jeff left the airport and I had no ride. Apparently, Chuck has called the airlines pretending to be my dad to find out where I was. Alas, they could not reveal that information. I finally got a hold of Jeff, came out to the farm, said my hellos, heard the story about how they tried to find me and then I was immediately put to work cutting carrots in the kitchen with all the girls having the time of my life!! You are never on the outside. You are always in our hearts. And you guys are always welcome at our home, it is home for all of the Hagen family no matter where they may travel from!