As soon as I was on the path from my car to the cabin, a snake slithered across the grass in front of me. I was so busy swatting the black cloud of biting gnats heading my direction, I almost missed it. Undeterred, I walked up the five steps to the porch and before I unlocked the door, I spotted the bat tucked into the corner of the porch ceiling. Great, just great. I was truly in the woods for the next six nights.
Early that evening, I heard a slight scratch on the screen door and as I approached it, I saw a raccoon scamper across the porch floor and down the steps. Maybe I should have stayed in the local hotel.
I decided to turn on my porch light to let the critters see the No Vacancy sign, but of course, by the time I went to bed, June bugs had been drawn by the light and were hosting their own reunion on the screen door. Gross! I slammed the door shut and turned off the light.
With doors and windows locked, I finally went to bed and tried to rest my mind. Certainly, with the driving I’d done, I’d be fast asleep. And I would have been except for that sound. Was it a coyote? Maybe a wolf? It sounded too close. When I got up to peer outside, the beady red eyes of a possum just returned my stare as if to say “Don’t mind me, I’m just checking out your garbage.”
I suppose I managed a few hours of sleep until I was awakened as the sun was rising by the sound of those same trash cans being tipped over. I made myself look. A mama bear and two cubs. I wondered if I’d been sleeping in one of their beds.
Have I mentioned lately that I enjoy writing fiction?
None of that happened except in my over-active imagination. I lost sleep for two nights when I booked the wooded retreat last February, imagining every creepy scenario. I worked hard to avoid those that included high school pranksters and escaped convicts. I really questioned my decision to stay in the remote log cabin that had “weather dependent” TV, but no internet or cell service, while I went “home” to visit family, attend a high school reunion and contemplate what home really is. Somehow, I was compelled to stay there.
I had a wonderful experience in my cabin in the woods, but throughout the time I made another discovery – going home is also sprinkled with a fair amount of fiction. Things aren’t as we recalled, expectations are based on assumptions, buildings are transformed, people are different. Our memories are sprinkled with facts that don’t exist, and perhaps never did.
Last week, I invited you to share with me what home meant to you. Thank you to everyone who responded. My favorite? “Home is where I can take my bra off.” Of course beyond that, I heard this – home is contentment, joy, comfort, longing, familiarity, acceptance, peace and love. Home therefore is a feeling, and there’s nothing fictitious about that.
For that reason, I can’t go back home again. Those feelings simply aren’t there anymore. The memories are, but we can’t live in our memories, good or bad. Nope, home for me is where I currently hang my hat and live in the moment. And I couldn’t be happier.
P.S. Please come back next week to read about my “home” area. It really has transformed itself from the town I left in the mid-70’s, and become a destination for many.