Show Me The Way To Go Home

I recently returned from a trip back “home” to California. When I was leaving Florida, I felt a little trepidation because, on my last trip to California, I experienced a rather strange sensation of disorientation ( I wondered if my equilibrium would be similarly out of whack on this trip.

Because the main driver for this trip was to scatter my mother’s ashes at one of her favorite places, I guess I felt I was a little vulnerable to emotional earthquakes from the get-go. Scattering my mom’s ashes in my backyard in Florida was a pretty gutting experience for me. I wasn’t sure how I was going to react to scattering ashes while simultaneously feeling like I somehow fell down a rabbit hole into a home that used to be mine but no longer seemed familiar.

I need not have worried. The trip was good. I felt like the time I spent with my brother was valuable to both of us. Scattering my mother’s ashes did not result in a meltdown for either of us. I think we both took comfort from being together with our memories of our mother- memories that only the two of us could share in the same way. I think we both felt better afterwards. My brother texted me that he felt like she was home now. I delighted in the time I spent with my friends. I felt like I was actively participating in life and relationships, rather than just sitting still and letting things happen around me. I enjoyed the sensation. As I drove around Southern California, the territory felt familiar again. I did not sense the weird and strange, as I did a few months ago.

I wondered what was different. I am sure that my mother’s death and my adaptation to a different life without her had something to do with it. Still, I think the biggest difference is how I see my home in Florida now. It took me a long time to really kick into gear and feel truly connected to my new life in Florida. It was a process. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it or that I was unhappy. It was just that shifting gears is very difficult for me. I have an extremely slow emotional transmission.

The last time I was in California, I don’t think I was quite comfortable in the idea that Florida was my home. I didn’t yet feel settled and secure in the life I’ve built here. My life in Florida was starting to gel and become my new comfort zone, but things were still a bit wobbly. I think I could not feel truly confident that my new “home” life in Florida would still feel stable and sound when I returned if I allowed my heart to experience some of my old “home” life in California. I could only allow myself to experience the distorted shadow of what used to be so familiar. I was kind of like a polar bear trying to make her way across shaky ice. Instead of gracefully and confidently jumping from one ice float to another, I was trying to balance each of my four paws on different ice floats at the same time. It wasn’t working and I felt myself being pulled in numerous different, uncomfortable directions as the various ice floats diverged.

This time, I think I’d become more secure and embedded in the fabric of my “home” life in Florida. Because I have created a richer, more connected life for myself in Florida- a life that is growing and becoming more deeply rooted- I feel more comfortable enjoying and appreciating the “home” I left behind. Feeling more stable on my current block of ice, this polar bear is now more confident leaping her way to familiar and unfamiliar ice floats as she travels wherever life leads her.

Do you think it is easier to appreciate the past more when you are contented with your present life or when you hit a rough patch in the present?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at  

Enjoy today, both at home and away!!!

Terri 🙂

Where In The World Is Terri LaBonte?

This week, I am haunting one of my mother’s favorite places in the world and scattering her ashes.  I am visiting the spot where we released my father’s remains into the Universe over twenty years ago.  I am bonding with my brother in our grief over our mother’s death and our celebration of our connectedness.  I am taking shelter in the hearts of a couple long time forever friends. I am in California- the state where I grew into an adult and spent most of my life.

I reside in Florida now.  More importantly, I live in Florida now.  My life is there.  My sense of meaning and momentum and satisfaction is there.  I am happy in Florida and with the life I am constantly creating there.  Three years after my move from California (the land of no weather) to Florida (the land of wackadoodle weather), I can finally say unreservedly that relocating and reinventing myself was the absolute right decision for me.  Florida feels like Home.

Still, California still seems to occupy a small corner of the place in my heart called Home.  This week, I am living in that corner and it is very cozy here.

What do you think?  Can “Home” be more than one place?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a sweet day!

Terri 😊

A (Weird And Strange) Sentimental Journey

When Max and I travel, our destinations usually have a wholly “vacation” vibe.  We are always visitors, not residents.  There is no overlay of “real life” on our trips.  There isn’t any consideration of work, chores, obligations, or normal day-to-day routine.  As a result, our usual emotional experience of vacations is fairly one-dimensional- pleasure, relaxation, excitement, fun.

Our recent trip to California was a whole different beast.  Some of what we did on the trip did constitute “vacation vibe.”  We stayed in a hotel with a jacuzzi, took a side trip to Nevada to go to the casinos, and didn’t worry about responsibilities.  On the other hand, we did a lot of things that recalled the time when California was our home- went to favorite restaurants, took a trip to the San Diego Zoo, visited friends.  Being in a place where we spent most of our lives made it impossible to escape the impact of the remnants of our past. Things were pretty much as we remembered, but not quite as we remembered.  Everything seemed too familiar to truly feel like “vacation.”  The rub, though, was that everything also seemed a little too stylized to feel like “home.”  California probably didn’t change.  It is more likely that the different lenses through which we now look- ground by our new lives- are the reason for the differences we sensed. Reconciling those feelings of “home” and how they have changed was a huge theme of this trip.

This nostalgia created by a vacation tangled and snarled up with the memories and associations of “home” produced a much more complex series of emotions.  It was fun and wonderful, but also complicated.  Yes, we originally decided to vacation in California precisely to experience some of our old favorite haunts and activities that we have missed since moving to Florida.  I was just unprepared to still feel so connected and, yet, so ephemerally connected to California.  It was almost as if my old life in California was covered in cobwebs and I had managed to get tangled in some of those silken threads.  I was always aware of the sense of being attached and always equally aware of how easy it would be to pull away from the thread.  Still, I was not sure that I wanted to completely disengage… either from my California connections or the Florida connections that are just starting to form.

It was a very weird sensation that overwhelmed me several times during the trip.  Everywhere I looked, I remembered the best of my times and the worst of my times. I remembered who I was and how I perceived the world during the nearly fifty years I lived in California. I remembered the experiences I had with people who are either gone from my life or who have changed radically. I remembered how satisfying it was to regularly and routinely see my friends in California.   I think I felt more nostalgic and mournful about moving from California during this trip than I did when we actually moved. On the other hand, being in California didn’t feel quite real… or quite right.

The last time I went to California was a little less than a year after we moved.  At that point, I was still somewhat of a stranger in a strange land in Florida.  The brief trip back to California was a welcome, comforting dose of familiarity.  It was really too soon for California to not seem like home any more.  At that time, I had sketched in the outline of a life in Florida, but there was still a lot of blank spaces.  Since then, I’ve grown and expanded my Florida life.   I’ve colored in the blank spaces and the Florida life is more dimensional now.  As familiar as California felt to me on this trip, it also felt weirdly unreal.  It was hard recognizing that I am losing my attachment to my old home, especially when it still all felt so familiar.  Familiar… yet more faded, kind of like the way a copy of a copy of a copy used to look in the days before we had digital images.  Maybe it isn’t really that I am losing the attachment to California, but just redefining that attachment.  California may represent my past life, but it is still my life. Surely that means there is still some kind of attachment.  Besides, people I love are still part of the California life that is unfurling each day.  I think that means that California life is still a present part of my life, too.

When I went to church the Sunday after returning to Florida, a friend asked me how my trip was.  I replied, “It was wonderful, but I am glad to be home.” She looked at me and said, “so, here’s home now for you, is it?”

As soon as she asked the question, I realized it was true.  I had said “home” referring to Florida without thinking, but I knew I meant it.  California still houses a lot of the artifacts of my life- the memories and experiences that brought me to where I am now in my journey.  We revisited many of those memories and experiences during our trip, sort of like the way you might go to a living history museum to discover how people used to live in the “olden days.”  Then, after soaking up a dose of yesteryear, you go home and go on with your own present and future.  That’s what I did. After our trip to California, I went home to my present day real life.

Have you ever gone “home” after moving away?  What was that experience like for you?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a great day!

Terri 🙂