n the last five days, I've traveled back and forth between 28 years, observing where I came from and where I ended up. Back in my childhood town, at my parents' home, I would forget that I had two children, regressing, returning to a time in which I had a specific role and place in the family tree, before setting down roots of my own. But there we would be, around the table, as we had congregated for decades earlier, yet this time, there were extensions, there were shifts of focus, there were my children and our path and our direction and our challenges. We were transplanted here, visitors, who didn't belong but were welcome for visitation rights.
It's funny. Returning to Chicago, the Midwest, I was eager to leave NYC behind me, as I mused upon why anyone would actually choose to live there for life. The trash, the rubbish, (and I'm talking culture here, not physically) . The small mindedness, the cold personalities, the impossibly high standards. It all seemed so unhealthy to me and I, we, clearly didn't belong.
Returning to the Midwest was a breath of fresh (frigid) air. The space, the quiet, the pleasant though vacuous exchanges. At last we could breathe, stretch, think. When the five days ended, we rolled back up our suitcases, reluctantly yet excitedly to return to our home, our life. As I walked around the airport, looking around at everyone sitting there, they struck me all as so Midwest. Their plainer clothes, simpler, vaguer ways of reacting. And I, and us, with our decidedly Jewish appearance, sticking out immensely. I began to long for a land in which everyone knew about Orthodox Jews and I was surrounded by them, where our cultures combined in that way. Where I could learn from those immersed in Judaism around me. Surrounded by classes and Jewish happenings. And a quicker pace. I realized, I felt, how I too didn't belong in Chicago.
As we landed back in NY, I felt a sense of relief at its greater intensity, at its motion, as we returned to our tiny apartment which for some reason, tonight,didn't feel quite so small.
And I remain a wandering Jew, a rolling stone, unsettled. We don't belong here. We don't belong there. We belong somewhere we haven't found yet, someone where we willl still be strangers yet belonging strangers. I realize there is no perfect place but I have a firm conviction that someday, we will find somewhere, somewhere where we truly belong. Somewhere after these years of searching, to call home.