A few weeks ago a friend asked what the last word of my novel is. The answer is "home." I thought about that recently when leaving Ocean City, MD, after a two week stay, passing through DE, PA, and NJ, states I've lived in, on my way "home" to CT. I've lived in CT for 13 years, eight at the same address in New Haven (which is the longest I've lived at one address as an adult), but I've visited Ocean City most Junes since 1968 -- almost 40 years. And my mother's house in DE is the same one I grew up in, though I only lived there 19 years. I was reminded of that old Neil Diamond lyric: "L.A.'s fine but it ain't home / New York's home, but it ain't mine no more."
Granted I can't claim to be nomadic and I haven't managed to live outside of the first five colonies to become states, but even so I also don't really know where "home" is. Oddly, I had to admit that by the end of my beach stay I was missing New Haven not for any great intrinsic attractions but because, for better or worse, it's become "home." And that surprises me because, psychologically, I feel myself to be here temporarily. Of course, we're all "here" only temporarily -- but I don't live in CT with any sense of being settled in.
I suppose I always imagined that "home" would be wherever I buy property, but that might never happen. And the reason it might never happen is that, if it did happen, it would mean I had found a "home" or had "come home." Or something. Maybe there won't really be a "home" until they put me in a home. Which of course is the antithesis of home as I conceive it. I suppose the easy answer is that the quad-state area of DE, MD, PA, and NJ is "the homeland," even if not home. But those aren't places, for the most part, I imagine settling in. Too much "been there, done that" for me. Still, any place I might finally settle in, assuming I do, won't be "home" the way that area is.
I got a home on high / Ain't nothin' but a stranger in this world
--Van Morrison, "Astral Weeks" (1968)