It’s a strange thing, this whole coming home business. About two weeks ago, it was suddenly very clear to me that I needed to go home, and it was all I could do to keep my feet planted in Texas soil. I knew my mother had a trip booked to visit me in Austin for the 20th-23rd and I didn’t think she’d appreciate me driving all the way to her house in Massachusetts the week beforehand. And I am so grateful that trip was booked, and that it gently forced me to stay in Austin for those last two weeks. A chapter closed and a new chapter is opening, and my impulsivity would have robbed me of the closure all chapters long for. So I stayed, and reflected on the journey to now. And I prepared and aligned for the journey opening before me. And I breathed.
Damn am I grateful for breath.
I left Austin Monday afternoon with New York City programmed into my GPS and a full tank of energy in my soul to drive until I needed to sleep, then get up and drive some more. Monday saw me into Arkansas. Tuesday Tennessee. Wednesday was Virginia and Pennsylvania, with a quick pop through West Virginia between the two. Maybe it was West Virginia’s fault, but it was Wednesday that saw a course change. Or rather a course extension. There is a conference I have been a part of for 5 years now that takes place Northwestern Massachusetts every summer, and I missed it last year. I have learned in my travels how to be a Velcro-wall. Life throws such abundant options and offerings at us, and we can’t try to catch them all. So I put my arms out and what is meant to stick sticks, and what is meant to fall away falls away. My heart and arms are always open to the Northfield Conference, and it just didn’t stick last year. I needed to be elsewhere. But suddenly Wednesday it was clear that it was not the time for me to be in New York City yet and that if I drove all day on Thursday, I could make it to Northfield for the last Sacred Circle and the last night’s dance. This is the community of people that first welcomed me in and invited me to heal myself and shed the layers around my heart, long before the Tribe of Dreams floated in through my Brooklyn window. It is because of them that I have the skills and abilities to serve and be in community with people all over the world, with intention and consciousness. It is because of them that I know just how important community is to me. And my heart knew it was time to go home to them.
My time there was brief and it was beautiful. The theme of our conference this year was “Indra’s Net: The Interconnectedness of All Life,” which I believe is derived from a Buddhist sutra describing the Universe to be a net and all Living Beings to be jewels at the intersections of the threads. We all reflect one another’s light and darkness. I walked onto the campus, surrounded in the lush, dense, forests that hug everything up here, and began to glow. So much Love and Light was being offered to me and shone at me, I would say it was blinding if it wasn’t so purifying. And I, too, am a jewel, and was shining their light back at each of them. My heart expanded to the size of the entire chapel in which we sat. The night ended with me, naturally, back in my shiny pink leggings, gold makeup all over my face, dancing up a storm with my family while being continuously sprinkled with glitter by two little fairy girls with invisible wings.
I got back on the road after a foggy morning of reunions and departures and headed to my hometown of Auburn. Before I left campus, my friend Caroline walked with me in the rain and reconnected me to my initial intention: be here with fresh eyes, not the eyes of the boy that grew up here. Walk through the familiar places the same way I walk through all those places I have never been or seen. See it for what it really is, not what I have defined it to be in my memories of the past. The past is dead. This is always the first day. The first time.
So I am here. Auburn, Massachusetts. The town I was born, raised, and lived in until I was 18, when I sprinted my butt to New York City. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a good life here. I had my fair share of adolescent pain, but I also had a blast. High school was insanely fun, and thinking of the mischievous and light-hearted spirit that my classmates and I shared still cracks me up. We did some crazy shit. And we loved each other through some real tough stuff, too. It wasn’t always graceful, but we were kids and the world was changing around us and we were changing and it was scary and fun and exciting and terrible and perfect. And at 18, there was just something in my heart that did not see the life I dreamed of living here. Through my lens at that time, everyone in my town was white and Christian middle-class Americans with 9-5 jobs and houses. There was never, and is not, anything wrong with any of those things, it just simply was not the dream I had. I didn’t know what that dream was, but I thought that there would be no better place to look for it than in New York City. I had never even been there and I knew it was where I needed to be.
And it was. I lived there for almost 8 years and have been gone for a year and a half. And NOW, maybe surprisingly to some but not so surprisingly to myself, there are a lot of similarities in my relationships with New York City and with Auburn. I am eternally, deep-bow-grateful to them, I shrine-forever-in-my-heart love them, bound by duty and desire to always return to them, and I know that neither place is my current home. It is the kind of home that means “where I come from”.
And that is some holy lands, the places from which we come.
I come home to here to say thank you.
And to serve as I was served, the service I received that has sustained me and given me a life to live.
And to help keep the fire alive here, with my people, the people that I forever belong to.
And I forever will.
And I am glad for it.