Well, I'm back from Texas.
Some of the things that I missed, man, I understand why I missed them. Texas skies at night are still the most beautiful. The Texas highways are wonders of modern engineering. I could talk to strangers on the street without them asking me for spare change. You still see guys in cowboy hats tipping their hats to girls as they walk by.
And the mexican food. The most divine culinary creation ever. Oh, do I miss that. I'm sure anybody who had to ride in the car with me wasn't as enthused, but...
They say you can never go home again. So in a way, I was expecting a huge change when I went back. Well, San Antonio hadn't changed. The grass was still brown. North Star Mall was still overcrowded. Pat O'Brien's San Antonio was still fun. The Blanco Cafe is still incredible.
Pleasanton? Well, the run-down Plestex 3 Theatre that I used to run is now the rather posh Plestex 4 Theatre, with great parking, new concession stands, a new Box Office, new bathrooms... It looks great. It doesn't feel quite like the place that consumed 9 years of my life. Still, I guess it's rather telling that I stopped by there before I did anything else. And other than that, Pleasanton is exactly the same as when I left.
My family is still much the same. My sister Amy still looks like a teenager. She's now a College Graduate (4.0, baby! You ROCK, Ames!), but she's the same bubbly girl that I've always looked up to. My brother David is now a father of two, but he was always the mature adult among us, anyway. My Dad is starting to look a little older, but he's also gotten really fit. So now he's got the suave older man thing going. Mom and Robbie look the same. June Hurley is still obsessed with Clay Aiken. Yeah, the family is changing, but they're still the same. My friends Caleb, Maggie, and Jacob haven't changed (though Maggie insists she's gotten fatter. Women).
So was it home? Yes, and no. I realized that it hadn't been completely home for a long time. I'd grown beyond Pleasanton years before, and I think everybody but me knew it. Not that it's hard to grow beyond Pleasanton, but still...
When I got back, I wondered, is New Orleans home now? Not Texas? And I had one of those moments where you realize something about yourself that is maybe obvious to everybody else, but not to you. I am never at home, and I am always at home, because for me, home is a state of mind, not a location. It's where you feel comfortable, and in place. And to a certain degree, I carry that wherever I am. On the other hand, I'll never have all my family with me, and all my friends with me, and it would take that to be completely at home. But wherever I am, whether it's in a hotel room, or my bedroom, or onstage, or walking down the street in a strange town, I'm at home, and I'm not. There is no Fortress of Solitude for me; what home I have, I carry with me.
And that's a very freeing thing. Now when I go visit someplace, it's not for the location (unless it's some location I've never been, like Ireland, or Brazil). It's just for the people. I don't have to go somewhere to remember my home. And when I'm there, I don't have to miss my home. If I go to St. Louis to see my Dad and Step-Mom, or Colorado Springs to see David, or Pleasanton to see Mom and Robbie - it's all home.
One thing I did love about the trip - my sister got to see me onstage for the first time since my Senior Recital in college. She got to see me play, sing, entertain, and just rock the crowd. And though my brother had seen me before, I'm much, much better now.
Well, as you can tell, I'm in a kinda serious mood, and I know all three of you who read this do so for the humor. So I'll leave you until I'm in a more entertaining mood. Talk to you soon, and keep writing!