Home Away from Home

Utah is beautiful: layers of rock and sand that have been shaped over hundreds of millions of years, first beneath an ocean and then sculpted by rivers and wind. The colors, seemingly straightforward, are nuanced and varied: the differences in reds and yellows and browns and greens are astounding. We walked in the shadow of cliff walls, among fields of boulders, through the crowds of spring breakers to the quiet of the “primitive trails.” We were amazed how quickly we could move into a quiet, peaceful place beyond the vast majority who didn’t walk more than a few hundred yards from their cars.

After a day of exploring, we found our way back at our rental. We met up with friends to spend an evening talking, playing games, riding bikes. These friends live six, maybe seven miles from our home, but we haven’t seen one another in months. Last summer, we spent days together–swimming, hiking, exploring–then school began again, and even the few within our Covid “bubble” became off-limits as we experienced school-imposed and self-chosen quarantine as our exposure to others increased.

Now, four hundred miles from home, after an adventurous day of firsts, we returned to town and relished the familiar: sharing stories, sharing a meal, sharing time and space, laughing and wondering and remembering. Being in a new place has never felt so much like coming home.

Bradbury Challenge (4)

Essay: Rebecca Solnit, “Mirrors,” from A Faraway Nearby

… And distant places give us refuge in territories where our own histories aren’t so deeply entrenched and we can imagine other stories, other selves or just drink up quiet and respite.

This rings so true in this moment: the need for distance to see more clearly, to imagine possibilities, to step outside of the demands and be quiet, be restful.

Story: Jonathan Safran Foer, “Love is Blind and Deaf,” The New Yorker, June 8, 2015.

“They’re always inventing new ways not to be aware of the canyon between them, but it’s a canyon of tiny distances: a sentence or a silence here, a closing or an opening of space there, a moment of difficult truth or of difficult generosity. That’s all. They’re always at the threshold.”

“Of paradise?” the angel asked, watching the humans reach for each other yet again.

“Of peace,” God said, turning the page of a book without edges. “They wouldn’t be so restless if they weren’t so close.”

I love Foer’s writing: it always feels new and provocative. He says things that make me stop, reread, wonder (“They were always inventing new ways not to be aware of the canyon between them,” and in a way that makes me marvel (“Adam saw spots; Eve heard pulses. He saw shapes; she heard tones. And, at a certain point, with no awareness of the incremental process that had led them there, they were fully cured of their blindness and deafness. Cured, too, of their marital felicity.”). He inspires me to think about every word and to imagine what’s possible, to see the power in stepping two feet to the right for a new perspective. He seems fearless as a writer: he doesn’t shy away from taking new paths to old places.

Poem: Chen Chen, “Self-Portrait as So Much Potential”

I’m no mango or tomato. I’m a rusty yawn in a rumored year. I’m an arctic attic.

Come amble & ampersand in the slippery polar clutter.

I love the ways these sounds roll around in my mouth when I read it out loud, how these phrases bump up against one another, how he writes “& ampersand.” The entire poem is heartache; from a handful of lines, I love this poet.

6 thoughts on “Home Away from Home

  1. Friends can make you feel at home wherever you are! You describe such beauty in your surroundings. I’ve never been to Utah but have heard how gorgeous it is. I like that you included black and white photos, letting your words describe the colors you saw. Glad you’re having a lovely time away!


    1. Thanks so very much! It’s absolutely beautiful here. It’s been so long since I was here, and we’ve never been with our kids. We have only scratched the surface: thousands and thousands of gorgeous landscape.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the descriptions in your first paragraph. They are so vivid and beautiful. And this line: “Being in a new place has never felt so much like coming home.” I love how you convey that feeling in the slice.

    Liked by 1 person

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