How long does it take to make a home?
This I know: two months is not long enough, but a span of decades suffices.
Innumerable factors go into the sense of being at home in a place (see sidebar).
I lived in Massachusetts for 39 years and in the town of Groton for the final 13 of that stretch. Every point in the enumeration below applied. The doctor I had first seen in 1976 went and retired on me a couple of years back. I’ve been visiting the same dentist since the late 1990s. My haircutter and I go back to 1993. (In fact I’ll be seeing her soon on a visit back East, as I haven’t had my hair cut since before moving here in July.) My mother, who was living in Maine, passed in 2011.
As to our life in St. Paul, we have the physical edifice and our stuff around us. Katharyn has all of her family in and around the Cities. We do have our driver’s licenses and plates. For the rest, we’re working on it, and it’s going to take a while.
For the first few weeks here, when we walked around the neighborhood, we found ourselves conversing in lowered tones. Why? We didn’t quite yet feel like we belonged on these streets. We talk a little louder now.
We’re just back from what became an 8‑day road trip to Santa Fe, NM. A dear friend of mine, who had been declining from MS for years, visited that city, which she loved, for what turned out to be the final time. Her friends organized a memorial service at the church there where her ashes will be interred.
While the purpose of our trip was not the happiest, we went with the intention of having some good times along the way. Katharyn and I are devoted fans of seeing how other people live, discovering new restaurants, sampling B&Bs and AirBNBs, and finding the serendipity of the road. And indeed, good times were had.
But the rhythm of this week-long road trip was subtly different than what we have come to know. We expect that as a trip draws near its end, the yearning for home grows apace. The transience of life on the road begins to pale and the desire for rootedness strengthens.
But where was our rootedness? No longer in Massachusetts, and not yet in Minnesota.
We’re home now. But the sense of home here is a small and precious seed compared to the mature, robust tree it had been in the life behind us in the East.