“You can’t stay here anymore, son. We lock the gates at dusk.”
“Really, sir?” I asked. I stretched out my voice. The politeness from him, from me, was painful. Sarcasm seeping through.
He stared at me. I returned the stare. Didn’t blink. He turned and walked.
I won again. Or did I?
The neighborhood park, an oasis almost directly underneath the rusted steel of the elevated “F” Subway line, was home away from home. For months. And now this prick was laying down some form of superficial martial law to prove he actually worked that day; like anyone I knew couldn’t find a way in to this park at night. Remnants of used condoms on the swings, discarded clothing told the real story. On the weekends, this park was teeming with people. Summer nights the same. Made sleeping on a park bench less sleep and more adventure.
In Gravesend, Brooklyn. A lower-middle class pool of tepid toilet water. Swirling personalities. Harsh realities. Old-school foundations lost to a new generation.
During a summer when innocent people died.
When my father was almost shot by serial killer Son of Sam.
Four parked cars close. But far enough. He almost was called home. His ears were ringing from the gun exploding, creating death.
Where home was. And hope wasn’t lost. Not yet.
Twelve-years old. Kicked out. Well, I left. Left a home that wasn’t a home. Too many strange men, too many strange drugs, too much nudity, too much of too much. And home wasn’t home anymore. And Dad was gone. Making out with women within the Son of Sam target zone; I was afraid of losing him. Like I lost my mother. Not to death. Just lost. She was in the dark. Couldn’t find home anymore.
Where home wasn’t. And hope was lost. Forever.
Author Thomas Wolfe wrote “You Can’t Go Home Again.” It was published after his death. I disagree.
There’s that recurring dream some of us have. We leave a home, a comfort, turn around, find ourselves in the middle of nowhere. In darkness. Panicked. Alone. Afraid. Disappointed. Saddened. Most of us eventually find our center again – the way back. Some don’t. Some stay lost. They’re alive, but restless. Can’t get comfortable. In their sleep they’re walking, searching. Awake they do the same. They try to find what’s lost. The home long gone. A torturous circle. A path with no end. Just a beginning. Over and over, again.
Until. It ends. On occasion, it concludes badly. Home burns down. Nothing left.
A few get shot in the head. Self inflict damage. Blood, spirits 100 proof, substances more evil.
Not you, though.
Time to rebuild.
1). Who or What is Home? Where’s your hearth? Who or what adds kindle to your fire? I’ve learned it’s ok if a person provides the fuel. Until that person is gone. And the bad dream returns. The door is closed. You look back. Dark. Learn to re-establish home base. Begin from the foundation. Understand what is home to you. Live it again. Feel the shelter form around you again. Rejuvenation.
2). Define or Re-establish your Home Base. It’s there. Just hidden. It’ll take some deep reflection to establish a new home base because each time you seek home center, the structure you build grows weaker, more frail. Until you stop. Stop building. You stop. The end. Don’t stop.
3). Understand your Financial Home Base. And work back to it regularly. If you’ve stopped saving, start again. If you haven’t examined your portfolio allocation, it’s time to do it with stock markets hitting post financial-crisis highs. Time to get your financial home back in shape. It’s never too late. You can go home again.
4). Know When it’s Time to Demolish. Start again. There will be times you’ll build a home base that never really was. In your mind you thought it was standing. Because what your mind feels will always be real to you. But it’s not. It’s a mirage. You find that out once the hearth grows cold. You’ll find building a new hearth is tougher than building the home itself. But it can be done. With time. As long as you stay focused. Have a plan, a blueprint to rebuild.
Where home is. Who and what the real hearth is.
And this time you may. Just may.
With a home around you.
Before you’re called to.