By Larry Feinstein
I was squeezed into seat 30H on a flight from Newark to Honolulu, followed by a several-hour layover and then onto my life on Kaua‘i. About a week before, I traveled in the opposite direction to visit my sons, my daughter-in-law and my angel grandson, Shane.
Many years ago, I made a choice, captured by the feeling that life is a journey. I left my young sons and career in NYC, moving away from everything familiar, driving cross the country to northern New Mexico. When I look back from this vantage point of time and experience, I can’t believe I did it. Back then, it never felt as if I was running away from anything, instead it felt like some natural progression for me. It was the beginning of my private, great adventure. Yes, it was also very selfish, especially as a parent of two little boys.
I never felt at home with the life I had built for myself during my 40-plus years in the city. So many of us are tethered to the places we are born into, and I was definitely one of them. Then, to complicate matters, there was the badge of honor, the New York ego thing. It gradually began to feel like life was happening to me, as if I had no control. As a younger man, I was near-sighted, unable to look beyond the expectations of others, to see my life in a larger context. I acted at being a grown up, never thinking I had choices. Slowly, I began digging a hole for myself, an emotional grave.
When Woodstock happened, I was already wearing the suit and tie uniform of someone in the broadcast advertising business. I felt conflicted between my life as a statistic of success and the soul-meanderings of someone searching for himself. Complications and obligations increased, moving into a home on Glen Cove, Long Island that I couldn’t afford, in a marriage that grew terribly thin, until it ripped apart.
The canvas of my own life began to reflect the discomfort that comes with dissatisfaction. Increasingly, I began to feel as if I was imitating a life that was not my own. The idea of home became more of a moving target for me. How I lived started to become more important than where I lived. I changed jobs and homes frequently. I grew my hair and often showed my fierce independence by wearing sport jackets and slacks, foregoing the success uniform of the suit and was professionally penalized for it.
An elderly Japanese man was slowly walking the aisles while I wrote. Wearing the hat of a fisherman in the rain, with a silent, know-everything smile, it struck me how easy it is for me to conform. Wedged into 30H, I realized I was laboring over a word groove, this story I am now telling. I got up to go to the lavatory, which is what they are called on planes and I looked into mirror under the harsh light of these glorified sardine cans. I realized I have told variations of this story too many times already and it is enough for right now.
I was supposed to leave for Kaua‘i the day before and instead had the worst travel day of my life. There were gate changes and plane changes, topped off with seven hours on the tarmac in a relentless rainstorm, punctuated by lightening flashes. I spoke to disconnected computer voices and endured the silence of the humans in charge. After around 20 hours of attempted travel and going absolutely nowhere, I was sitting on a motel bed in downtown Newark, only to get up at 4:30 a.m. for the second go around of my Ground Hog Day saga. While I was incredibly tired, I was thrilled to be going home to my Kaua‘i, which is what got me going on this home theme in the first place.
The meaning of home has changed over time for me, becoming less literal and more figurative. In many ways, my whole life has also become about who I am, as opposed to what I do.
30H was my home for around 10 hours on that day, and this writing thing of mine is the word map that takes me to the place where I live, a place with no address, visiting it again and again.
Safe travels, inside and out.
- Follow Larry’s word travels at mindandthemotorcycle.com