Homeward Bound

February 20, 2011

If you can imagine the perfect day after being gone from home for a long time, that was my day yesterday. We reunited with good friends at the House of Pancakes in Marathon, spent the morning with them, then went out for pizza at our favorite local joint, the Hurricane. Jay and the kids went back to play and do laundry at our friends’ house while I headed to Publix. I nearly wept to see cantaloupes 2/$3.00, not to mention fresh berries! I didn’t even try to control myself. While we’re traveling, I try to keep everyone happy and comfortable, so I filled all requests, from animal crackers to Haagen-Dazs ice-cream bars. I even bought a couple of boxes of Kraft Mac-n-Cheese (gasp!). We can go back to our home-made, organic diet in a couple of days. It was a fun day.

After living in France for half a year during college, I know about reverse culture shock. I appreciate certain things about my homeland because I’ve been away from it, and I am likewise appalled by certain things, whether I’ve been away or not. We already know what we will miss about cruising, and what we will appreciate before we go “back out.” There’s nothing like a life of self-deprivation to make you really thankful.

Over the last few weeks as we’ve made our plans to return to Florida, I began talking to the kids about what’s coming next. Every time I mentioned the prospect of coming “home” they corrected me—“you are home!”  I guess we have really convinced them that this boat, and where their family is, is home. I had a hard time explaining what I meant by “home,” chiefly because I mean different things by it. That made me reflect on what that word really means.

In returning “home” from the Bahamas, I meant to our homeland, the U.S. “Home” in Florida for me means friends and family, the Gulf Coast where Jay and I grew up together, and even “home” to the marina where we kept our boat for two years. Yet, coming to Marathon felt like a homecoming, too. We lived there for six months, getting our feet wet, so to speak, in the cruising lifestyle. Our friends there make it feel like “home” to us. In a previous blog I talked about always feeling homesick for somewhere. They say that home is where the heart is, so if we leave a little piece of our hearts everywhere we go, then we are also always at home. That’s no small comfort in a world where so many feel disconnected.