Monday, August 13, 2007

You Can't Go Home

Thomas Wolfe wrote “You Can’t go Home Again,” and this weekend, I finally found my personal meaning to that.

I traveled back to Kansas City and one of the things I was very much looking forward to was going to my regular “sushi night” with a friend of mine and meeting some of the people who had also become Friday night steadys in the 7 years since I discovered my love for Japanese fish.

As a matter of fact, I had met this good friend of mine there a little over 2 years ago on the Friday night after my Dacshund, Hershey, died. We talked about our dogs, our love for sushi and we both discovered we are creatives. We’ve been friends since.

But sushi night just wasn’t the same. The crowd we knew wasn't there. It had only been 2 months, but we recognized not one patron (my friend had stopped going after I moved) and while the waitresses all seemed happy to see me, the sushi chefs didn’t seem to give us the same “regulars treatment.”

And so the first night set the tone for most of the rest of the weekend. I had no desire to drive by our old family homes, nor did I have any feelings at all entering our old neighborhood and seeing the house we had called home for 17 years; shopping was a let down, the mall was too noisy and crowded – and my Starbucks didn’t even taste the same!

While everything looked familiar, I just couldn’t make it be.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved visiting with my friends and our old neighbors. But nothing held the same meaning and I was probably setting myself up for disappointment in expecting it to.

In my personal life, I thought about my disappointments with the move (and there have been several). At the beginning of my weekend, I was even toying with the idea of moving back - or maybe finding another town in another state.

Our trip to Germany opened up the explorer in me. Maybe we could take some of our gains from the sell of our house and travel the country a little – see if there is someplace else that felt more like home. Montana is beautiful, I hear.

At the same time, I thought about my recent disappointment with the Society of Professional Journalists decision to file an amicus brief in support of a publisher in a freelancer vs. publisher contract dispute. I volunteered with the organization, but along with the majority of freelancers with whom I've spoken, felt that even kicking legalities aside, this was the wrong position for a journalism advocacy organization to be taking.

As I was talking with my business friend who is going to help me refocus my professional goals, we talked about my former role with SPJ. He reminded me that you could only be disappointed if you have expectations. Most importantly, so many factors that are out of our control can play into the failure for those expectations to become fulfilled. So the burden of lifting that disappointment falls squarely back on us.

As all of this was bouncing around in my mind, I received word that SPJ would not be filing the amicus brief.

I was still examining the feelings about my weekend “home,” and where and what that meant to me. I momentarily thought that maybe I still had a place within SPJ. My purpose with SPJ had always been clear, I wanted freelancers of all levels to feel they belonged to an organization that supported the ideals of journalism for everyone. In my years of involvement with SPJ, I met a lot of journalists and many of them became my friends. I felt a lot of support both before and after last week.

Maybe I could continue as a member, I thought.

In that instant, I suddenly found myself driving by the hospital where my mother died nearly 6 months ago. It might be one of life’s clichés, but the moment she took her last breath, releasing her from illness and pain to a higher existance, I felt a sense of personal release as well.

I realized then that I was trying to hold on to things that I have grown out of
– in my personal life it was the place I called home.

In SPJ's case, the death of the organization in my mind certainly didn't mean it was released to a higher plane. In any case, in my business life, at least in part, I know I'm holding on to an organization that doesn't have the same value as it did two weeks ago. I say in part, because I have a lot of examination and learning to do about my new goals and what it will take to get there. I have yet to know where else that will lead.

I’ll let Erik Sherman examine the finer points of SPJ’s most recent turnabout (, and I will only say that I agree with him completely.

For my personal life, I know it will take some redefinition too. I will have to change the picture of what I thought our new home should be - to what it is - in order to let go of some of the disappointment I've felt since I arrived.

Last night, I finally made it back to the cabin in the woods that held so much promise of a new life for us. When it felt good to be home, I knew that it still does hold that promise.

My trip this weekend helped me move forward. Today, I’ll be assisting my husband in finding a job so he can finalize his move. His completing this life-change we decided upon will also move us from the purgatory we’ve been living in within our minds to our new heaven, our home. At the same time, I'll be working on my own business goals.

This doesn’t mean I’ll be leaving my friends in Kansas City or SPJ behind.

I’ll still be here, but “home” no longer means the same thing for me as it does for you.

I hope you’ll visit me on my new personal and professional turfs soon and maybe pull up a chair and stick around for a spell.


Blogger Wendy Hoke said...

Beautifully said, Kerri. I wish you and your husband all good things as you move forward in your life together and careers.

7:52 AM CDT  

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