I've written about the traumatic experience of moving away from St. Louis before, but what I haven't touched on is the slow death of the sense of home I get on visits back.
At first it started as a disconnection from friends and familiar places that were no longer visited since we spent most of our time 4o minutes away at my grandparents' house or near there at my aunt's. Over the years, the city itself changed; new development here, a new highway there, an old familiar business closed.
It didn't even really have all that much to do with establishing new roots somewhere else because those old places existed as memories in who I am. But I still felt it slowly slipping away.
I know that it's the people that matter, but places provide context and can be just as important.
That being said, before this last trip to St. Louis for the holidays, I learned that my mom's parents would be moving out of their home of many many years. It's the only home my dad has known them to live in. I spent a lot of my childhood there growing up. It was one of the first places I drove to unsupervised when I got my driver's license without needing directions.
Needless to say, this weighed heavily on my mind before, during and after this trip. It would be the last time I would be walking through that familiar door that sticks, leaving my shoes at the bottom of the stairs with my coat and heading up into the house. It would be the last time I'd smell that familiar smell, so many last times with no real closure.
Everyone else lives in homes that I remember them moving into, places I remember as being a new experience. This was the last of Old Places that existed in my memories before they were mine and it would never be mine in the same way again.
I remember feeling this way when we moved out of our first house at the age of twelve. I was too young to remember living anywhere else. With the house dark and empty, being there for the last time was sad but I remember that there was nothing I could do about it. Each move was easier and my parents no longer live in our San Antonio home. I'm not sure if I've gotten better with coping or if my roots don't dig in as far.
I know loss is part of life and I'll get over it, but that doesn't make it any less painful in the moment. For now I just have to be happy that all of my family is healthy and that I have no reason to fear any other loss for quite a while.
Sorry for the unintended hiatus. I'd intended to write a post before my travels comparing zazen to travel but after putting it off this hit me. Without time to write while in St. Louis I lost out on the opportunity. My health turned while in Dallas and prevented my intended return, so another week later I've found time and have returned.