That’s a loaded word, “home.” You can’t go there, according to Thomas Wolfe, but you could look in its general direction, angelically.
One night in an Irish bar in San Diego, where I had been taken by my date, an Irishman who’d been my student, I was introduced to a man who, after looking at me quizzically through blearily drunken tired eyes and hearing my name said, “Och, and when were ye last home?”
“He means Ireland,” said my date. I nodded, didn’t know what to say. “Home” as Ireland? Never been there.
So what is this “home” of which you speak?
When I was a kid, home was always Montana, wherever we lived. “We’re going home for Christmas,” my mom would say, and I’d wonder where in hell we were when my mom said, “Come right home after school.” Parental language is designed to keep kids off balance. In a part of my mind, Montana is still “home” but I will probably never return. The people who made it home are all dead.
In 2014 my friend Lois picked me up at the airport in Denver. I was going to look at a house in Monte Vista — a town I’d never seen. To get there, we drove over Poncha Pass and dropped down into the San Luis Valley. I knew immediately that I was home. The light was right. The mountains were right. The emptiness was perfect. I found a house that fit me perfectly. For the first couple of years, I frequently wondered if I had died and gone to Heaven.
But I got to Heaven without dying, and I was finally home.
My dad’s favorite singing cowboy brings it all…home.