I've been traveling since the last post -- out to Minnesota for a week for my daughter's wedding, then back home to Philadelphia.
There is never just one home. My daughter grew up in Wisconsin, which was once Home. Then I moved back to Pennsylvania, my home state, and even though she remained in the Midwest, she referred to her visits to Philly as "coming home."
She has been comfortably at home in St. Paul and Minneapolis, but soon Home will be an apartment with her new husband in a new city. Only two hours away from me, now there will be weekends when she visits. She will probably call it Going Home to visit Mom.
I was only a few months old when my mother took me down home for the first time. That's my grandfather, Ben Snell, holding me, the second born of his grandchildren.
The last time I'd go down home to the farm on Mill Pond Road, I'd be 18, a college freshman who was trying to carry an impossible academic load, partying too much, caught between grandiose, manic ideas about what I could accomplish and the gravitational pull of freedom. There is no picture from that visit.
In the 17 years in between, there were visits to the farm in tandem with Outer Banks beach vacations. To me, they were visits to relatives, but not a homecoming, even though I'd been going there since infancy.
The house where I grew up in western Pennsylvania was sold in 2004. The house in the picture above was torn down long before that. They are places that no longer exist as they were, except in pictures and, less reliably, in memory. They are no longer Home.
I'm not sure what I'll find when I travel to North Carolina. Landscapes that may or may not look familiar. Graves. Documents. People who know things I don't know.
This week I learned that there is a 93 year-old relative with a sharp memory still living in the area that was my mother's Down Home. I am hoping that bits of my family history reside in her mind, that somewhere in that trip, there will be a kind of homecoming of memory.