There is no homesick lost as the want for a good steak and cheese. It is January, California-mild, the way the smell of grease sits in the back of the throat hits me for no reason as a body sense, makes me think, damn, back there they must be cold. There are no delis here, no sub joints, no liquor stores with a line at the grill. It’s dad’s birthday. In DC there is six inches of snow but he didn’t close the school, is just letting them come in at 10. His voice, thirty years older than mine, is clean and round on the phone, in that way that I know he’s handled his exhaustion. I give quiet thanks that Monday was a holiday because it means he took the time to rest, be still. You’re a hard ass, dad, I say to him and he laughs that laugh that says back to me I’m on top of my game.
Like he would know what to do with himself if he did cancel classes today. He’s at uncle Tim’s, where he lives through the week, two hours away from the house he calls home which is at the beach. I know dad, he’d drive through all the snow on Kent Island just to get down there for an extra day, even if the golf courses are closed from snow.
On Friday as soon as I hit the freeway a thought came again that’s been cozying around in my head. I drive the 5 for freedom, PCH for peace. It tells me I am home. In Oregon when I lived there on the coast I learned that you need at least a full year, one whole turn of all the seasons, before a place will let you know it, will really let you in. Well, my year in Laguna came in August and I had decided to cut and run, was packing and selling to move back to Maryland. That didn’t happen though, the Muses had other plans, here I sit instead, writing desk in front of the window looking out at trees growing from the side of the canyon. Makes me want my backpack, long nights under the stars, the cool feeling of nights in a tent.
And so I am my father’s child, a wild run frenzy that dictates, like he says, I’ll sleep when I’m dead. But that’s not it, entirely. The need to run, the holy can’t stay still. There’s assimilation in it for me, the step-on-it fastness of sun-roof open windows down loud music that stirs it all up, because that’s just who I am, what I need sometimes. A quick shake up that helps me see better who I am when I land. I drove to Venice Friday the smog to the north of me dense as a brick. El Segundo was Saturday in the back seat of Deanna’s Volt, Monrovia on Sunday to watch the game with Paul. Because this place, this here, this is my home. If not forever, at least right now. Which means the 5 is possibility and PCH my back roads, where I go for a slow meander, shades of light, the sweet taking in of what is slow.
Home is a funny thing. I think of dad who would rather brave all that snow than have to sit around in a place not his own. He didn’t tell me that, but I think I get it. It takes a while sometimes for a place to open up and let you in. Or maybe, it takes a person a while, sometimes, to do the same.