Twenty years ago, I graduated from the University of Southern California. Things were seen, jobs were done. I moved through London, New York, June Lake, California, Auckland and Los Angeles again, doing mostly live audio engineering with a two-season stint as a ski instructor thrown in for fun.
Ten years ago, I moved to the Triangle to pursue a Ph.D. in Communication Studies at UNC. My wife and I were a bit nervous about the move, meeting as New Yorkers and previously living as Angelenos. We came to love this area deeply, and will keep our home in Hillsborough for retirement. In June we are moving to rural Chautauqua County, New York, westernmost in the state where I grew up. There, I will start as an Assistant Professor of Audio / Radio / Sound Design while staying on as Head of Audio for the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater, a job I have held for now 20 summers. Turns out, contra our local hero Thomas Wolfe, you can go home again.
In truth, you never really leave. Home is in you. I heard once that the best songs are about running away from God or running toward it. The worst of all possible art, and life, ignores the Divine. And as all things are God, home is God.
Seventeen-year-old me would have never predicted going home. In my mind, it was where I was stifled, mocked, limited. The real world, the world that mattered, was out there on the shining coasts, where those who mattered did that which mattered. I came. I saw. I kicked ass. Yet every summer I returned home to the job I have held the longest, in the place I treasure most, with the people I treasured most. Now I get a second job there. My wife and I get to raise my daughter there.
My experience around the world is a permanent treasure that cannot be taken away. But I remember a thought that ran in my head at the end of my sojourn through Europe: There are only so many churches, museums, drinks and cuisines that can be sampled before they all blend into each other. Sooner or later you may have to choose one place, and sink roots into it. I have found mine. In truth, I never left it.