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 (http://www.terrilabonte.com/2017/08/a-weird-and-strange-sentimental-journey/). 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy today, both at home and away!!!