I have just returned home, to the place where I grew up.
I have spent the past 20 plus years, neither wanting to come back, nor ever feeling homesick over it. I had raced away as fast as I could after high school to a distant university, 250 miles far better than none. Even the reality of whether I would return to finish my senior year of university was at question; so powerful was the draw of the American West to my budding traveler’s psyche at the time, life’s experiences trumped structured learning in every regard within my perspective.
I was not a writer back then, nor did I love writing as much as I do today. To the contrary, I
hated writing… hated “drawing connections” across the great works of literature, so much so I almost did not graduate because I told my English teacher to “Fuck off” for the final written exam. Essays were optional on the only non-state university application I completed. And it felt as though I was being courted by all the prestigious engineering universities, given the track I was being channeled down with talents in math and sciences.
Maybe they wanted my money, more than they cared whether I could write or not. Who knows for certain, it was an engineering university after all, where mastery of the humanities was subservient to crunching numbers and conversions, oh the conversions between the metric and imperial systems was mind-numbingly redundant and seemingly 50% of one’s grade. And upon acceptance, essays about “What higher education meant to me” or “The adversities I had overcome,” left blank; I knew without question, I was going there over the two local state universities which accepted me as well.
When it came to writing, those few papers we had to complete, so that their programs could be accredited, and “well rounded” graduates could be attested to, I dropped a letter grade in every course where papers were required. At least one in every five papers, I could not cross the threshold of discovering that connection, the commonality between different reference pieces, and I would agonize over busting through a two-page ceiling to achieve the mandatory five. Irony to say the least, now I find it impossible to stop at ten!
For all practical purposes, I have not been back… “home,” yet here I am now… and, it is, a bit comforting.
The college-age debauchery had here… 😜 Way much better than that of my Small Town, Small Mind world view that existed prior to getting out and knowing not a thing about myself or who I am. Across #LakeOntario was #Toronto, the skyline you could see from here in Olcott Beach, NY. This is the only place in the world I've ever traveled where my perception of north is south and south is north. I just drove across my kid-age 'giant' world in 10 minutes. It's a bit mind boggling, that THAT world would fit many times over in Lake Tahoe, that once was my territory, where not only did I see the forest, but knew just about every tree in it (no joke). #perspective
I do not plan to stay, but I will be here for a month or two, maybe three, before heading to Africa. And I am O.K. with this situation. That, is even with the reality that I left Colorado, a place where people from this area I am now, or places very similar to it scattered all across eastern America, dream about moving to. Only a few go… most never get past dreaming, life catches up to them first, the dreams fade into memory, or are replaced by both the good and the bad, of the life that they create or that, which just happens. Does it even matter which, active or passive?
Maybe it doesn’t, but I knew from early on when I left, that it did matter to me. There was probably nothing that mattered to me more at that time. And for many years, that was my primary concern… to never come back, because to come back would translate, in my thinking to “just letting life happen to me,” not “actively making life happen as I desired it.”
There is a difference between the two. It is a matter of perspective. The perspective of oneself in years past, still unsure and lacking confidence in one’s abilities, to that of a life full of experiences. Confidence gained through successes achieved over the years, and the wisdom through hindsight to compare the known past against the current present, which is not possible, comparing present to an unknown future.
Perspective is a strange thing.
In coming down here to think and to write, waiting for the inspiration to dictate the topic, I simply told my folks, “I’m just going for a drive. Don’t know where I am going, just that I need to take a drive.” Subconsciously, I may have known I was heading here, along the lake I feared as a kid, but grew up, and survived on, all the same.
It is not something I ever recognized as a thing of beauty, surely not of the caliber of any other place I have been. It is the place of my roots, the place I wanted to leave as soon as I could, and was thankful unknowingly at that time about all the places I did travel to with my family as a kid.
But when I arrived here, at the bluff in Olcott Beach overlooking Lake Ontario, the water was like glass, the sunset beautiful. Idyllic in many, maybe all regards… a scene that would inspire any writer, any photographer, anyone in general. I was even able to capture the essence of the beauty with my iPhone, my Canon DSLR back at home. As it turns out, it wasn’t needed, nor would there be need for any editing to enhance one color, to highlight the wisps of clouds, or the reflection off the water.
Perspective is what is at stake here. In particular, my perspective, and the only one that has ever mattered to me in regards to how I have perceived natural beauty. And, it is what was just put on the chopping block. That perspective has never allowed me to see beauty in this place I call “home,” through my always denying any connection to this place, and at this moment, it feels as though that essence of me has vanished. A wall of negativity I had build around this place, for whatever reasons, crumbled without me hitting it with a hammer or needing to set dynamite at its foundation. It eroded away, just like that, without intention, without reason…
Was the wall I had built around this place and within my thinking, more a safety net I installed so as to never accept defeat, had I been unable to make it in “the big unknown” that existed beyond the place of my birth? Or something else entirely?
I guess I won’t know for certain right now, but it is peaceful and comforting for me at this moment, writing in a place, that for years prior, I had zero interest in ever seeing again. A place, hardly any different than that of the Black Sea, where I took great effort to capture a photo of its salty waters, and the same slimy green seaweed covered rocks I hated as a kid here, as they washed over my flip flop wearing foot just last August in Turkiye.
Perspective, is what determines whether something truly beautiful is something that holds a sense of beauty to the one looking upon it. And maybe, that is the truth revealed to me this evening, in a place I have rarely acknowledged as what it really is to me, my home.