(On returning back to Cincinnati after a road trip to see a best friend from college)
There was a time when my feeling of home was neat.
Neat like a young boy dressed up in polished, brown
leather shoes, creased slacks and a multicolored,
polo shirt from Kohl’s that cost $12.50.
I was not a troubled boy from a troubled home,
nor was I an Airforce brat tucking my teddy goodnight
in twelve different coastal cities before the age of 10.
My feeling of home, as I said, was neat.
The postman delivered my mail, mostly from relatives
at the time, for well over fifteen years … until he retired and
we got a postwoman (how progressive). We stayed in
one place so long we saw the rise and fall of a man’s entire career.
All I was really certain of was the feeling of home I felt.
There were tears for missed kisses and for scraped knees,
but there was always a bedroom to retreat to. And there
was always a stocking with my name on the Christmas mantle.
I haven’t had a feeling of home like that in twelve years.
The ‘something solid’ has been missing from my heart
and I’ve been balancing my emotions as well as
sub-prime mortgage spending at the millennium’s turn.
I’ve lived in houses since, yes, not homes. Not my home anyway.
Maybe we are all just strangers missing the same made-up
feeling of home. If we have no place to rise from, to retreat to,
to protect and keep, will we ever feel complete?
My name is carved into the wood under the marble countertop
in the kitchen at the address of 185 Nod Road Ridgefield,
Connecticut, where once stood my home.
It has since been painted over.