“… all my wishes end where I hope my days will end … at Monticello.” — Thomas Jefferson
My dentist and his wife recently adopted twins from Russia, and in the last month of the process, my dentist said, he flew to Russia four times. He hated it because he is a self-professed homebody. I’m a homebody too. I used to worry that something was wrong with me, so it was nice to hear that somebody younger than me is the same.
Home. The word itself sounds warm and inviting, like cozy, or toasty. Abode, habitation, domicile, lodging, roost, nest — all evoke images of comfort and joy.
I guess we’re supposed to believe that world travel and exotic destinations are exciting and hip and that staying home is boring. I never really considered home boring because I’ve always surrounded myself with books and music, but in my youth my spirit was touched with wanderlust, and at times I felt trapped, wishing I could walk out the door and head to the tropics. In hindsight, though, I see that it’s easy to dream of wandering when you’re at home.
In my 20s I thought nothing of gallivanting after work. I would drive to a friend’s house and hang out, or I would go to stores, and most evenings I would go back out after being home awhile. Now after work I beeline for home, and if I need something from the store I must convince myself to stop, wanting nothing more than to return home, where abide my greatest wishes: family, animals, books, music, a somewhat wild back yard, a park with a creek, and quiet and solitude.
In my younger days I loved to eat out, but now restaurants annoy me. Eating has come to be a quiet, introspective act, and I get impatient with distasteful music; the lack of control over food as I become more and more particular about sodium, fat and sugar; people walking back and forth; and a waiter or waitress checking too often or not often enough, leaving me in need of water (hack) or napkins. An occasional meal out is enjoyable, usually as part of an outing, but I don’t go out of my way to patronize restaurants.
Same with bars. I wasted a lot of money on beer in bars in my youth. I haven’t patronized a bar in ages. I can’t justify the prices when I have a stock of lager and ale at home better than that found at most bars, and, as with restaurants, I have no control over noise, music selection and the company. I find joy in a good beer while enjoying the quiet of home, exploring my library, writing my journal, petting my cats and goat, reading, and listening to music I prefer.
When I travel, I enjoy seeing new places. The images of cities, countrysides and roads new or at least less familiar stay with me for several days. At the conclusion of a trip to Harpers Ferry one year, I waded barefoot on the rocks at the edge of the Shenandoah River before our return to Ohio, and that warm summer day sustained me the next day as I sat feeling stifled in an office in Akron. I enjoyed my visits to Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Delaware this year and to Virginia last year, but all the time I was thinking of home. I have found that my favorite travel involves trips where I return home at day’s end. I’m rooting for a transporter like on Star Trek, so I can visit any site in the world and still sleep in my own bed.
I understand now that I’m in good company. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington devoted their lives to public service, but they wanted more than anything through all those years to retire to the sanctity of their homes. I know how they felt.