Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend that used to live here. After catching up on our lives a bit, he asked me if I ever thought about leaving Moscow, living somewhere else. I just laughed, and replied, “I think about it every day.” Right after Jim died, I had lots of kind folks suggesting that I should get out of here for a while. Go to Europe, rent an Italian Villa, find a warm beach and sleep for a month. While the idea of escape was a nice fantasy, I also realized that, “No matter where you go, there you are.” A foreign language and a change of location was not going to change that I was a sad widow. I’m not so sad now. I’m remembering the past, but not living in it. I’m starting to look forward.
When Emerald was in Junior High, I took her to Hawaii for a week. She had been lusting after a warm beach Spring Break from the time she realized that we always headed for snow. A vacation in Hawaii would immerse her in beautiful scenery, and she would, by default, become one of the beautiful people. She got sick immediately upon arrival. All the beach lounging and colorful fish couldn’t change that she was still just a teenager from Idaho with a fever. I did notice that she perked up and enjoyed herself more when we took off for hiking and handstands in the volcanoes, and that she was most restful when we headed north on the Island to the rolling green hills that looked so much like home. No matter where you go, there you are.
I know that no matter where I go, there I will be. And yet, the idea of leaving is a nice fantasy. How can I go anywhere when I owe this community my life? And yet how can I look forward to a life in this place where I will always be, “that LaFortune widow”? Moscow is the place I raised my children. My mom settled here in her retirement. There is a legacy of trails on the mountain, one bearing our family name, and we will raise a toilet soon with the same name. I hold a lifetime membership to the co-op and I pledge to my church. It is the nest that has held me and my family over the last 21 years. But, all fledglings escape the nest. Perhaps the bird analogy is what is wrong. I am a river person. I swim with the Chinooks. The Salmon leave their river home for the ocean, sometimes for years. They go…. and then they return. They return home. Where the heart is.
Moscow is a college town, and hence more transient than not. People arrive, and they leave. Some never make it out of here after grad school, some never come back. I have friends that take jobs on the east coast, but keep their property here. Others leave for a month vacation, or summer internships, or a year-long sabbatical. Folks with stable employment pick up and leave for a better offer. Others work in sub-optimal appointments for the luxury of staying here. They follow their hearts. If home is where the heart is, then what is home when your heart is broken?
After my friend laughed with me, he asked, “Where? Where would you go if you could live anywhere?” I don’t know. I’m not going anywhere for a while. I have a son to finish launching, more solo homeowner tasks to master, and work that I want to do here. My heart is still broken, and I often need the nest. But it is healing, and someday it will be whole again. Then…I will look around, and follow my heart….home.