Can’t quite let go of home

I grew up in the Hudson Valley of New York State.  As of this August however, I will have lived here almost the same amount of time that I spent where I grew up.  One would think that could equate in one’s mind where home is.  But it doesn’t.  The old adage goes ‘home is where you hang your hat’ and to a certain extent that’s true.

If one were to walk through my house here, there’s more things that scream ‘Hudson Valley’ than say ‘Finger Lakes’.  Above the couch in the den there’s a map of the town I grew up, circa 1781.  In the addition here, there’s a clock that says “(Town Name) Beer and Ale‘ that I got from eBay.  And so on.  Items all over my current life that harken back to where I came from, not where I currently live.  As infrequently as I go to Facebook, one of the groups that I check in with more often than not is the one where people who I went to school with, played golf with, and did a myriad of other things people do in their hometown congregate.  Marvel at the newest iteration in the town, or mourn with others when the obituary references are posted of people that either I knew, or my parents did (lately some of my mother’s ‘cronies’ have appeared, like Mrs. Kane who died earlier this year).

When I visited my birth mother two years ago, we spent more time in my comfort zone than in hers.  Considering that we’d been separated by 50 years (I was adopted 3 days after being born), she wanted to see where I grew up, where I went to school and so on.  I showed her the house where I lived for 27 years, now owned by someone else.  We weren’t permitted to go into the house as the owner was elderly and didn’t feel comfortable opening the house to someone he didn’t know.  Which I understand, it was a longshot at best but I would have liked to show my mother all the little quirks of the house as I remembered them.  It’s the historian in me that laments the loss of what could have been, but I’m grateful at least they allowed us to walk the grounds of the house, so I could soak it all in again.  Over the years when in the area I’ve driven past the property, but this was the first time since 1992 that I was able to actually walk the property.

As I get older, I think of what I’m going to be eventually leaving behind.  If someone were to write a history of my life, what would they dig up and post for someone (anyone) to read or care about?  Would they say that I’m a child of the Hudson Valley, or a resident of the Finger Lakes?  On occasion, when vacationing elsewhere, I’ve thought about moving to that area, but never pulled the trigger to do so.  The last time this happened was when I was visiting someone in Colorado Springs in 1990.  I spent a week in Colorado, had a wonderful time and while sitting in a cafe downtown, I seriously thought about moving there.  What stopped me was the consideration that, after six months there (or less) I would imagine the ‘newness’ of being there would wear off.   I’d be going to my job every day, and living my life, and it would become ‘normal’.  It would no longer be new or exciting.  So I might have been better off staying where I was.  As it turned out, that was probably the best choice, as the person I was visiting and I failed to keep that connection and we went out separate ways six months down the road.  But again, it was a ‘what might have been’ moment.

I’m a child of the Hudson Valley, yes.  But a resident of the Finger Lakes.  Just have to marry the two somehow, I suppose.  At least until I move somewhere else.  Then the process will begin again.

Flag waving Fools

This weekend I had at least one day off, something which is pretty unusual for someone that has a job in retail.  Last night (Saturday) I was watching the biopic ‘Lincoln’, you know, the one with Daniel Day Lewis portraying the 16th POTUS.  Sally Fields played Mrs. Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones played Congressman Thaddeus Stevens from Pennsylvania.

The majority of the movie dealt with the impending passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, the one that would abolish slavery in the United States and eventually any territories the country might possess in the future.  It went into a good amount of detail of the fight that occurred in the House of Representatives during the month of January of 1865, culminating in the vote of the 31st.  As with any sort of history movie, many things that might be considered important were still glossed over and history was changed a bit to make the movie run better.  That’s to be expected.  Yes, Robert Lincoln was at Appamatox when Lee surrendered.  However, he was a junior officer on US Grant’s staff, and wouldn’t have been on the porch overlooking Grant bidding good-bye to Lee after the surrender was signed.  It makes a good scene in a movie, but it didn’t happen.

Finally, toward the end of the movie, when the 13th Amendment was finally passed, a great shout went up in the House chamber, Representatives were throwing papers and singing ‘Battle Cry of Freedom‘ from within and without celebrating their hard fought victory.  However, they really hadn’t sealed the fate of slavery just yet, because the states of the Union still had to do their part, either ratifying the amendment, or not.  That didn’t happen until the end of 1865, but again, you have to have a happy ending.

What’s the point of all this you might ask.  I’m just observing that the heavy duty flag waving of today that one sees in the U S of A, was just as fervent 153 years ago.  And they had something to celebrate.  Do we?  Time will tell I suppose.