Since moving back to Chicago, on nearly every Sunday, I take the CTA to the old neighborhood to see my parents for Mass and lunch. I ride rails and buses that I’ve known since childhood. I pass both tourist landmarks and landmarks of my life. I remark at the changes that have taken place since I was away and embrace the reassuring constancy of what has remained. But most of all, there’s a part of me that’s still in a measure of disbelief that I’m actually home again. The excuse of my birthday got me to reflect (more so than usual) on just where I’ve been in these few decades and wonder just what I thought, during those times, I would be doing with my life. I’m not exactly sure that I had any concrete thoughts about where I’d end up, honestly, but at the very least, that certainly means I never thought I’d be back home. I mean, when it was time for me to go to college, moving Very Far Away From Home was no insignificant motivation; and it seems to me that a lot of my decisions subsequent to that were driven by the desire to establish Clear Separations between me and the life I left behind.
But all that seems somewhat silly now. My parents aren’t getting younger, and someone needs to watch over them…and maybe there’s some feeling of a need to make up for lost time. And, as much as I love and miss New York, and as much as I learned to love Wisconsin (and PA, too, I guess…), there’s no denying that there’s really only one place I consider to be truly Home, and it’s not a bad thing to come back to it. And if I consider that this all started with an invitation to interview received well after I had considered my application cycle as complete and had already begun planning for another four years in Wisconsin…I think I was incredibly fortunate. Weird, how these things work out sometimes.