No Place Else Like It
by Anita Higman
Novelist, George Moore wrote, “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” What a beautiful thought, and so true. I have an empty nest now, and in between writing my novels, my husband and I travel the world. But even when we visit exotic places, meet exciting people, see spectacular scenery, these experiences can eventually become tiring instead of thrilling. Suddenly, nothing on earth feels as good as home.
You know what I’m talking about. You want your own home-cooked food even though it might not be gourmet fare. You want your own bed even if it’s old and lumpy. You want your friends and family around you, not merely strangers. Home is where your heart resides, and when you’re tired and lonely, there’s just no hotel elegant enough or comfortable enough to take its place.
Many years ago, when I was growing up on a farm in Oklahoma, I can recall a number of memories that warm my heart and remind me just how important home is. Some of those recollections are connected to the creek that meandered along our farm. My father would take my brother and me fishing from time to time. I grew to love this activity, not just because we caught the best-tasting catfish in the county, but because it was a beautiful memory-in-the-making, being with my brother and my dad.
Even though I grew to enjoy the sport like my father did, I was never really very good at it. I caught some prizes yes—the ones that didn’t get away—but many other times I would get too excited and fling my pole up so high that the hook and worm would get tangled in a tree branch. Not a pretty sight, since somebody was going to have to retrieve the whole mess.
Each time, my father would patiently try to tug on the fishing line until it came down, or he’d have to cut it loose and prepare the bare line with another hook and weight and bobber and whatever else I lost up in the tree. The thing was, I’d become plenty old enough to do all this work myself, but he never minded doing it for me. I think it was because he loved my company out there fishing with him by the creek just as much as I enjoyed being with him. This memory comes back to me often, and when I think of it, I long for that creek bank by our home and a pole and the company of my brother and my dad. I wish so much to get one more glimpse of that old farm in Oklahoma, but alas, it has long sense become someone else’s home.
In my latest novel, Winter in Full Bloom, I celebrate home in a big way. In fact, the themes of my story are homecomings and reconciliation. Here’s a small excerpt from the novel…
Then leaving the most enchanting experience for last, we drove two hours from Melbourne to see the famous parade of the fairy penguins. I nearly froze to death, but the three of us bundled in blankets at sunset and watched hundreds of the tiny creatures march out of the waves toward the dunes on Phillip Island—toward home. I remember thinking yes, my time had also come to take my little family home.
And then later in Winter in Full Bloom, I wrote a piece of dialogue that also reflects my thoughts on the subject of home…
Marcus leaned back and pulled out everything in his pocket, making a little pile of treasures on the sand.
I chuckled. “So, what do you collect?”
Marcus motioned for me to sort through the heap. “Be my guest.”
Among the items were acorns, lip balm, and seashells. I pulled out the two mollusk shells from the stack. “There are two here. Does that have significance?”
“Everything has significance.” He lifted up the two shells. “See, if you place the two halves together like this . . . they make a home.” Marcus fitted the two shells together. “The way God intended.”
Half of the novel, Winter in Full Bloom, takes place in Melbourne, Australia. I did visit that amazing city, and I took down a lot of notes on the flight home. But I can tell you, even though I had a marvelous time in The Land Down Under, and the experiences were wonderful enough to put inside my novel, well, after about three weeks of being on the other side of the planet, I was sooo longing for my own little world. After a very long flight to LA, a layover, and then another flight to Houston, my husband and I slept deeply and soundly in our own beds that night.
Yes, home. Such a wonderful place to be. Nothing else like it!