There is a robin sitting on my bird feeder right now, looking in and chirping with a beak full of dried grass. I’m not sure what she wants from me, but she’s obviously in the throes of nesting. Its that time of year.
I’m nesting too, though with less dried grass. We didn’t travel in March and for the first time in memory I wasn’t chomping at the bit to get to the airport, get on an airplane, head somewhere else. In fact, as we did just that, headed westward last Friday to spend the weekend in California, I squawked and complained about it. I didn’t want to leave, I didn’t want to fly, I just wanted to feather my nest and watch spring explode. I’m amazed at my willingness to just be here, to enjoy the simplest of pleasures - the birds, the flowers, the way the sunlight falls across my bedroom in the morning.
The honeymoon is officially over, today, but I’m clearly still besotted with Tennessee. Like a bride who still sees Prince Charming in the man snoring on the other pillow in the morning, I might even breathlessly tell you that I like it even more here than I did two years ago. I might even be telling the truth. Two years! It amazes me that we have been here that long; it seems in some ways like just a few months ago that we left LA. A year – I could believe a year. But two seems impossible. I think the first months were a blur - I can hardly count them, and who could blame me? Boxes and meals out don’t really make for a sense of permanence. Last year was our first “full” year, but I spent a great deal of it working and being stressed about working and the other significant chunk travelling, the upshot of which being that I wasn’t present here in Tennessee for as much of it as I could have been. And now this, the unceremonious ending of the honeymoon phase, two years gone, just like that.
This spring is familiar, mild and bloomy, roadsides awash with color and the air scented sweetly in the long evenings. We had a thunderstorm two April 8ths ago, and I think we could hear thunder tonight (we certainly did last night – the cat was afraid and woke us for reassurance). The neighborhood is dotted with cherry trees in full bloom, and thanks to my initial neighbor envy I now have one of my own. The dogwoods are even blooming, spreading their lacy arms out to the redbuds tricked out in shocking purple – the debutante and the bad girl of the tree set. Springtime is Tennessee at her most seductive.
I enjoyed my time in California; no denying that. Being with the people I love was worth leaving my nest, worth the pangs of self-pity that I no longer live in a cosmopolitan place, worth the realization that I am a bad 80’s song and that I do love LA. We were there at the same time last year, and coming back then felt like a 2000 mile wide game of Twister. With a foot in each place and a heart in California, my hands were frantically looking for a place to find balance; I was afraid they might land in Kansas, and then what? I came back to Tennessee last April 8th and had to ask myself – well, how did I get here? I liked it but it wasn’t mine and I put off the milestone until summer, hoping the dislocation would pass.
Somewhere between last April and this one, mixed in with a soggy summer and a beautiful fall, too much work and house guests galore and making friends and crying over missed ones it did, and Tennessee became home. Not just where I live, a pretty place, a nice house, friendly people – but home. I knew yesterday, as we ran errands and admired spring, that I was where I was meant to be. I’m comfortable. I like it. I miss it when I am gone and still gasp at the beauty of it when I drive to the store for a mundane errand.
I marvel at my good fortune of landing here, in this neighborhood, this town, this area, this state, even, when there are so many other places I could have ended up. Leaving LA was painful, harder than I knew at the time and still, sometimes, harder than I want it to be. The nice part of the reflection I am allowing myself today is that I know now that it was worth it, that it was the right choice. We both feel giddy to be home, happy and lighthearted and so pleased with where we are – the dislocation of last year and the anxious knot of two years ago have both gone, melted out of existence with the emergence of the daffodils this spring. Someone else can have those ruby slippers I wished for last year – I’m already where they would take me.