Entries in travel (1)

Tuesday
Feb192013

Home


Home is warm summer days and endless blue skies
Splashing in a pool
Hoagies and cheesesteaks
Green rarely seen
Red barns I long to love back to life
And tastycakes…

I’m returning to Houston from a week back home. I had come back because my dad was having a heart surgery that I felt compelled to be at, even as he assured me that it was nothing more complicated than a tonsillectomy. Right, Dad.

Home a divisive work for me. Being a military brat I have no real  “home” to go back to. Home is where the heart is, my heart, the heart of my family. Home is where they welcome me, tease me, cook for me, love me.  I have no childhood home, so my aunt and uncle’s home in Pennsylvania is the closest thing I have.  It is a place where I know where everything, from the extra towels to the coffee maker are and I can help myself to either , where I feel comfortable climbing into my Tinkerbelle pajamas and stealing the remote control away from my cousin. 

When I arrived in Philadelphia and began the hour and half/two hour trip to the Allentown area in my rental car, I was confident I knew the way to my Aunt and Uncle’s house well enough to get there with no problems and ahead of the snow (an issue I don’t normally have since I visit usually in the summer)   As I eased down the turnpike and into Allentown,  the landscape became more and more familiar, even as it was covered in a dusting of snow.  Soon enough, I pulled into the driveway and the comfort of home.

The funny thing is, for as easy as it is for me to get home, getting back to my LIFE in Houston is much more difficult.  I always, and I mean always, get lost going back to the airport. Coming from the airport I can predict upcoming exits even down to which lane I need to be in order to get a ticket for the Turnpike. (A lesson learned when I ended up in the EZ Pass lane leaving me with no toll ticket. I’m still thankful for the toll booth operator who took my license and had very nicely assured me, “it happens all the time”  When  I explained I was “going home” he asked where I got on at, and told me, “yeah, it’s  kinda tricky there. You  need to be on the right for a ticket but then get over to the left.” Advice that saves me everytime.  Haven’t missed a toll since

Returning to the airport is a different story. One time I ended up in some residential area.I drove around looking at manicured lawns and colonial homes for half an hour before I found the freeway again.  Another time, I ended up going over some bridge and into a sports complex. That was not a good one. I totally freaked out and scared my kids to death.  Today was no different.  I could feel the anxiety building as soon as a grabbed my toll ticket. My heart was racing and heavy in my chest. I was nauseous and breathless as I headed out of Allentown toward Philadelphia.  Sure enough, just when I thought I had it, saw the sign for the freeway I needed to take. Just as the knot in my stomach began to slightly unravel, I exited too soon, and found myself on the wrong freeway, going away from the airport. Of course.

Now for those of you familiar with the concept of Turnkpikes  on the east coast, you know that exits can be fairly spread out, by like 15 miles. I had no idea how far out of my way this little detour would put me.  Panic set as I longed for a Texas size bottle of Xanax, and thanked God my kids weren’t with me.  Well, I thought, the worst think that could happen is I would miss my flight. I might have to wait awhile for the next one, but that is what airport bars are for, right?  If worse came to worse, there is a very nice Marriott hotel right across from the rental car drop off. I would check in, order room service, and try again tomorrow.  That is what credit cards are for, right?

Thankfully, the next exit proved to be only six miles up the road, with a gas station at the end of the exit! My GPS, which is possessed sometimes, took pity on me and decided to give me correct and easy to follow directions back to the airport. All and all it only cost me an extra half an hour.  I returned my car and got through security with time to have lunch and a much needed glass of wine.

I think it is some weird psychological block that keeps me from getting back to the airport, some weird Twilight Zone vortex that doesn’t want me to leave, just wants to keep me forever on that damn Turnpike:  Next service center 1 Gazillion Milles. Maybe it is the fact that Houston is not “home” and I always feel that I am missing so much by not being In Pennsylvania: holidays, birthdays, and just having family around.  It occurred to me then, that while Houston is not my home, it is my children’s home, where they were both born and (so far) raised. We rented a house when I was pregnant with my daughter,  who is now  10, and when she was four,  we bought a house  just across the street.  This is their home, and they have all the things in Houston that I miss in Pennsylvania. For that I’m eternally grateful.  I don’t think they would mind too much if we picked up and moved, they love their cousins and aunt and uncle and can’t wait to “go home”  every summer, I’m not sure that will ever happen.  Maybe, but  It sure would be nice to have home mean the same to all of us for once.