The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Coming Home August 13, 2011

Filed under: An Ongoing Journal... — wingmother @ 12:24 am

You know that feeling that lingers in your gut when a piece of correspondence sits far too long without a reply? That’s the feeling I’ve been living with since I arrived back home after my recent trip to Chicago. Elihu is again back in the Midwest with his father for two long weeks, and it seems I should have ample time to respond to friends, to return calls, to make at least a brief post on my blog. Yet somehow, life adds up, and the cracks and crevices fill with unforeseen events.  I apologize for my long absence, and hope to make up for it with something of an update.

The night before I’d left for Chicago we held the final concert of my father’s 52 year-old  Festival of Baroque Music. (The day before we’d just concluded our first run of kid’s art classes at the Studio.) That Sunday Dad had been honored by fans and friends for his esteemed career as a harpsichordist and supporter of early music. Some of the concert goers had even been in attendance for Dad’s very first concert back in 1959! It was the lovliest of evenings. The weather showed mercy and for the first time in many summers it wasn’t too hot. The musicians played so beautifully, and the room was simply filled with love. I couldn’t have hoped for a more wondrous way in which to conclude my parents’ half century of hosting musicians and holding concerts. And afterward at the house the food was fresh, delicious and abundant as usual, and dear friends stayed with us into the night enjoying it all.

The next day Elihu and I were off to visit Chicago. In just a few hours it seemed we were standing on the Howard el platform with our bags, marveling at the sights of a real city. While our visit was mostly relaxed and free-form, it did at times become rather hectic and jam packed. We made few structured plans in order to accommodate the serendipitous nature of life. Catching up after three years’ absence was a daunting task, yet I did see many old and dear friends. I even managed to sit in with a big band I sang with years ago as well as do a night with my beloved Prohibition Orchestra of Chicago. (With a mother’s great pride, I report that young master Elihu stood beside me and confidently belted out a couple of songs as well.) We enjoyed the beach as I introduced my son to what I will probably always regard as the most enjoyable bathing experience to be had anywhere on the globe. Smooth, sandy bottom, clear water with the awe-inspiring expanse of sea and sky before us, the skyline of downtown reminding us (or at least me, as Elihu could not see it for himself) exactly where we were.

I had a personal revelation upon my return to upstate New York. When I got on the plane I felt relief to be going home. My heart looked to this place as its destination. And that was new to me. For the three years I’ve been here I’ve not quite felt I lived here. I’ve kept Chicago in my heart as my home. I’ve yearned for it, compared Saratoga unfairly to it, expressed my disdain at all my current location’s inadequacies. Yet after having revisited many familiar places, I had come to feel that my old life there had been played out. Satisfied, fully lived, completed. As I stood in these places that I knew so well, I could feel with certainty that my purpose there had been fully expressed and there was simply nothing left for me to do. My work there was done. Looking out of my window on the plane, down onto the very neighborhood in which I grew up – the Baha’i temple clearly visible, and my own childhood home just houses away from it – I didn’t feel the sorrow I’d expected. Instead I felt a warm sense of gratitude for all that it had meant to me in my life. I blew a kiss to my beloved old home, and then a new feeling began to well inside of me; the urgent desire to get home and get to work.

As with any wave of inspiration or revelation, its energy often diminishes with time. I suppose that lifting of my heart, that resolve to hit the New York soil with renewed purpose and vigor has waned a little in the days that have followed my homecoming. Once home, life hit with the force of a huge, breaking wave and I was carried away in the current of to-do lists and new situations to attend to. For the next week I’m working to complete all the unfinished projects on the farm and garden front so that come school time I can put my household concerns behind me and concentrate on creating this arts center. For now I’m tending to matters of the home.

And I’m happy to report I now know where that is.

 

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