This is what I've become in my middle age--a homing pigeon. I believe I, like the homing pigeon, could fly long distances on instinct alone to return to my very own nest. And I'll bet I could even find my way with several senses knocked out.
I used to long for vacations and time away from my regular routine, but with each passing year, it gets harder and harder to get me out of the house. I have become a curmudgeon who almost thinks leaving the house isn't worth any amount of pleasure I might receive by doing so. Any year now I am going to flip over entirely and never leave again. "I love my home, I love my nest, East or West my nest is best..."
I returned home tonight after 8 lovely days in Northern California, where my kids attended their now annual ritual of Bible Camp at our old parish. We had a fantastic time, as we always do when we visit with our dear, dear friends and former neighbors, but still I am delighted to be home again. Home in my own home. Where I have backstock on diapers and I know where my cell phone charger is. Where I understand how the remote controls work and how best to load the dishwasher. Where I know how to effectively diffuse the chaos that comes with having six children and a huge dog. Where I have my trusty pair of eyeglasses for those unfortunate days when I have an eye infection.
Now, don't get me wrong. I am an extremely social person. I would shrivel without time spent with my best girlfriends, eating too much and watching chick flicks (which can be done most effectively on overnight visits of course). My children share this social affinity and delight in slumber parties with the children of my best girlfriends. I will not deny them or me this pleasure. But it is getting harder for me to do this fluidly. Part of it is that I simply have to pack a lot more than I used to. Not just for the children, but for me too. I require more products as I age, and I am bound to forget something critical (eyeglasses, antibiotics, nursing pads, you name it!). Part of it is that I am used to being master of my own domain and it is hard for me to relax outside of my own routine. Regardless the cause, the end result is that the carefree days of tossing a few things in a suitcase and dashing out the door are behind me, I fear, for good. Packing requires high level mental effort for me now (and, let's face it, the faculties are fading fast).
However, once I reach my destination, I do love forgetting about the things that nag me when I'm home. Like unpaid bills, garbage collection schedules and all the projects I should be completing instead of watching The Devil Wears Prada and eating ice cream. When I'm at someone else's house, I can purely enjoy these things without guilt, and that alone is worth the packing hangover!
At this time, I must acknowledge my saints-on-earth friends are who continue to invite me and my brood to stampede through their homes. Try as we might, we are not a low impact family, especially with the drooling, king-size canine in tow. Just this week we took out a ceramic pie plate, a plunger, a bedroom carpet and a piggy bank, among other things. What the dog did not chew, the toddler threw. And this is not even to mention the clutter we overran the house with during our stay. And the volume of trash we produced in their meant-for-four-people trashcan. And, oh, the spills, the endless spills. Thank you, Tim, Tina, Kyle and Rebecca for having us in your home so graciously. And thank you to all my other friends and family members who have received us the same way for extended stays. You humble me with your hospitality, truly.
That said, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to have people stay at our house, indefinitely and in great numbers. Come one, come all. Let the homing pigeon stay in her nest and remain a social butterfly. Come to the desert. Come often and stay long. It's the same great company without the mess and destruction in your home. What could be better?!