My concept of home has become rather fuzzy over the past few years. When I left my parents’ house for college, I left a pseudo-hometown that I liked (but had really only lived in for ten years) for a college town that I loved. I felt very at home there, and my closest mentors and friends cultivated that feeling. When we moved to Florida, I moved into the first of several dwellings with my wife. Now that we’ve lived here in Florida for six years, this feels more like home than anywhere else. And yet, when you live somewhere for eight months with the same people and they quite purposely become your family, the notion of home shifts once again. This poem has come back to me again and again as I’ve traveled back and forth to and from Uganda.
Home, oh Home
The soul of your variety
All my bones remember
Ironically, I DON’T remember the author, so if anyone reading this is a real poetry buff for obscure late American works, hit me in the comments. But I digress. The point is, I now also have a home in Africa. Trite and potentially corny as that sounds, I do feel a kinship to the people whom I lived with in Uganda.
Now I’m HOME, and that means the only place in the world that feels completely like my home: I’m with my wife. I’m in our house. We’re with our dog. We cook and relax and have fun together. I have never been away from this home for this long, and now that I’m back, I seem to have a stronger sense of home. I’ve taken almost a month to reflect on this, and it is perhaps fitting that I should post about it on Independence Day weekend. I’ve just spent the past two days on the beach with Jenn and on the water with some friends who have a boat. Prior to that, I’ve been enjoying some of the many things that are just not the same when I’m not home.
I’m about to make a totally cliché case in point. When Jenn asked me what I wanted my first meal to be when I got home, my first instinct was steak. Ugandans don’t eat that much beef. Half the time their beef has been boiled so long it has the consistency of a shoe, and the other half of the time, it might be tender or flavorful, but rarely both. (n.b. this is not a commentary on Ugandan food, which more generally speaking is very good.) After some thought, I started considering that a steak was all of the things I DON’T miss about American food: it’s a big hunk of meat, it’s way to much protein for one meal, and it makes me fat. If I was going to eat meat, I decided that I wanted a burger. A good Ugandan restaurant can serve you a steak that will rival anything you can order in a decent American steakhouse. No Ugandan I’ve ever met can cook a burger that’s anywhere close to this:
Jimmy Buffett starts running through my brain just looking at this. Wash it down with a cold domestic lager and it tastes like home to me. The kale chips next to it are a testament to the changes that inevitably happen at home any time I’m gone this long. Don’t knock ‘em ’til you’ve tried ‘em though; they’re very tasty.
We didn’t wait too long after I returned to get back to a summer routine that includes regular visits to the beach. Here’s a shot from our first trip out: Bald Point.
We’ve been out twice since then to our favorite place, Cape San Blas. The most recent trip was Friday, when Jenn had the day off. Saturday we were back out in the sun with some friends who have a boat. How fun was that? Well, I’ll offer a hint: I’ll post more pictures when I find my camera. Until then, suffice it to say that I’m happy to be home!
UPDATE! A few pix from San Blas:
me in my hat that reminds me how lucky I am and how good life truly is
some of the rugged beauty of the dunes
friends out on the “mega station” (winner, best flotation device ever)
finally, my favorite time of day on the beach. Enjoy!