The journey home is more than physical miles logged on a flying tin can with almost enough leg room for a third grader. Going home is an emotional sojourn where the jaded middle aged me collides with the hopeful awkwardness of my adolescence.
I love where I live. Every single day from the windowed front of my flat, I gaze in wonder out over the English Channel. Amphibious behemoths shuttling people and cargo holds of stuff float by under the watchful eye of the Beachy Head lighthouse nestled where the South Downs plunge to the sea from alabaster cliffs.
I love scones and tea and fish and chips. I love my local pub and ploughman's lunch. I love the majestic pageantry of all things royal. I love double decker buses and red phone boxes. Wimbledon and Ascot and rowing on the Thames are quintessentially English. And even this jaded sport agnostic enjoys every Pimms and strawberries and cream filled moment.
But home is equally spectacular. Yes, home is where I now hang my hat, and have built a life. Home is also the place where I learned how to be me. Where I was loved and nurtured and encouraged and educated. Home is Mister Roger's Neighborhood, and Sesame Street and trips to the Nancy Carson Library. Home is Saturday morning cartoons, and Sunday School and Wednesday night suppers.
Home is gallons of sweet iced tea and warm buttery corn bread and homemade pimento cheese and crunchy crusted chicken fried steak slathered with decadent white gravy. It is biscuits and fig preserves and Papa bread and black bean soup. Home is hand churned ice cream in peach and strawberry; ripe and cold and decadent.
Home is familiar accents and anecdotes and news about friends from long ago. Home is y'all and yes ma'am and thank you and please. Home is where at fifty years old and more than my share of gray hair, I am reduced to deferential young girl in the midst of my elders.
Home is hymn sings and classic rock. It is band camp and choir retreats. Home is toilet papered trees and yards blanketed in for sale signs. It is add-a-bead necklaces, Izod shirts and all things preppy. Home is white Easter shoes and stiff inky back to school jeans.
Home is melancholy memories and sentimental retrospection. Home is where my Dad lived; and where he died. Home is love personified. Home is red sun baked clay and spur dotted sand. It is the heady scent of magnolia and gardenia and camellia.
I ache for the home of my childhood even as the waning sun paints its spectacular swan song over the South Downs. I yearn for my return to the Land of Hope and Glory when basking in the warmth of a perfect summer day with the boom of thunder heralding a cooling rain shower in the country of my youth.
It is perfect here.
It is perfect there.
Is there really such thing as perfection? Even in paradise there are sand gnats and sun burn.