Saturday, March 04, 2006

The front door

I hate being away from home because it means fitful nights of sleep in strange hotels, food that doesn't agree with me and precious little time to hear the distant voices of the most important people in my life.

As hard as it is on me, I know it's infinitely worse on my wife and kids. My wife is stuck being a single parent, while our kids' routine is thrown off by my absence. It isn't fair, I know, but it's the deal we know we have to make if we want this career thing of mine to continue to grow. Still, it's hard to be a husband and a Dad when you're thousands of kilometers from home.

Every trip - this one was to Phoenix, Arizona for a symposium where I heard leaders of some of the top tech firms in North America share their vision with the investment community - always seems to generate an indelible image in my mind. This one was no different, but it came right at the end.

The taxi from the airport pulled up in front of the house. The temp was well below freezing, the sky was dark, and I shivered as I thought about the desert warmth I had left a mere few hours earlier.

Through the front window, I could see our daughter and youngest son turn their heads as they realized I was home. Their little forms quickly disappeared from the window and reappeared at the now-open front door. They danced in the doorway, waving at me and calling my name.

Taxi driver, apparently unfamiliar with the concepts of change and receipts, was taking his sweet time in the front seat. Still, our kids continued to dance, oblivious to the cold, happy that I was finally home.

By the time I finally made it up the walkway, they were hanging out the door and excitedly calling my name. It felt good to hold these squirming, happy little people as I came inside.

I wish the innocence of realizing that Daddy's home would never leave them, but I'm not so naive as to believe that time stands still for them, or for anyone, for that matter. As I stood in the hallway and listened to their excited chatter, I felt somehow blessed that I was able to enjoy even one moment like this with people who are so fundamentally a part of me.

Your turn: What does coming home feel like to you? If you wish, I hope you take the time to share your own coming home story - either here or on your own blog.

39 comments:

vanx said...

My longest time away was on a trip to Marseille, Paris, Koln, and London. I caught cold in Paris. A really bad one, which cut deeply into the fabulousness of Germany and England ("we'll always have Paris!"). When I left to go on the trip, it was still early fall. When I got home, the leaves were down. Fall colors had taken over, and my daughter Marguerite, about seven at the time, was outside raking in a brown coat. The yellow cab pulled up, and she turned around and came out of her raking reverie to give me a slow motion smile of welcome. Here face changed comletely while I watched. It went from feeling good to be home to feeling great to be home.
Rick

Plain Jane said...

I go away so rarely. But coming home is a cacophony of she-hellion toe-nails scrabbling on the floor, whines and whipping of tails as they slosh back and forth at welt delivering speed... and there is the smile of the spousal unit standing clear until he can get his squashing in. It's always good to come home.

David said...

get some rest friend
here from michele

Shelli said...

Carmi, this made tears come to my eyes. It was so vivid, your coming home to those two little children who love you so much!

I will write a story of coming home on my blog and when it is done, I will come back here and let you know that it is up.

Shelli said...

I posted my homecoming story here. I linked you appropriately, too.

vanx said...

Carmi, I must say that your blog is kind of like a meditation space.

Jennifer said...

It feels pretty much the way you explained it. However... I remember as a child what it was like when mommy or daddy "came home" either it be from work, a trip, or wherever. I remember the excitement, I remember standing at the window jumping up and down calling their name. I remember the huge embraces as they came in the door. So I can relate to your kids. So remember each time you leave them, that when you do return... realize that it truly is having an impact on them is some shape or form. And it is creating great memories for them. Make each return as special as you can. :)

Viamarie said...

As far as I can remember, the longest time I was away from home was a week and it sure was a lonely feeling. Even if I was busy with work at that time, it was difficult to keep my mind on the job. Calling home was like every 2 hrs for the first day and then every day for the subsequent days. Finally when the day to go home came, I hardly couldn't wait. I was longing for the warmth of my home and of course the family that filled it up with all the love.

Take Care!

jude said...

Usually when I leave town, I am visiting a corn milling facility, much like the casco plant in your town. When I return home my kids are always excited to see me but play a big game about how bad I smell because I was in the corn factory!! Some people would extend the trip to stay over another and head home fresh and clean, but I usually hop in the car when done and head straight home, with a little starch on my pants and a little "corn plant smell" baked in. Luckily, most of my long and far far away trips in my career were done before the kids came along.

utenzi said...

Michele sent me, Carmi.

That's a wonderful description of your homecoming, Carmi. I'd have loved to have been at the symposium tho.

When I come home it's to an empty house--but it's full of books so I'm content. People and pets are so messy. I prefer to just visit with other critters.

Maggie said...

It's just the opposite ofr us. I'm always saddened to cme home, because my DD travel with us. COming back always mean I have to go back to work.
Have a great weekend.
Via Michele

David said...

i like sleeping in my own bed.
some bizzare creature named shirley has invaded my blog. it aint pretty

AverageMom said...

http://yukonmom.blogspot.com/2006/02/looking-back.html

It's not exactly going home, but it really was the best home-coming I ever had.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Though I love a good vacation, home represents security. A strange bed is unfamiar, and to be back in one's own is always so good.

Michele sent me here.

mar said...

This is good stuff for a blog entry, Carmi. I don't go away on a business trip like my husband does. Going home means for me going back to the roots, going back to Santiago, Chile. I have been away for over 20 years and I am not back very often. It is a transatlantic flight, it is a long trip, it means going back to see my family and old friends, it's nourishment for my soul. It means a lot to me. It's going back to familiar sceneries, smells and tastes. It's going back to my own language. To my own places. Where my heart always is. Have a lovely weekend at home. You lucky man!

chelle said...

I have yet to leave home for more than hour!! How terrible is that?!?!
I hope my experience is like yours!
chelle
Michele sent me to say HI!

"D" said...

Here via Shelli.. and I posted a homecoming story too, linking to you also. Welcome home!

Dave said...

I travel with work like you and also like you I can remember my small children being pleased with my return. As you say though it doesn't last, enjoy it while you can as my 18/16/14 year olds barely notice my leaving or my return!
Here from Michele's BTW this time.

Carolyn said...

When I sang and traveled a lot, coming home was nice! I had stepsons that greeted me wildly because I'd usually have some candy or a treat for them. Then they grew up and went to college and empty nest syndrome set in. Now my husband is the one who travels w/his work. He gets to come home to me, 2 dogs, & 2 cats. That's a total of 5 wagging tails! ;-D

surcie said...

Even when I leave my son just to go run errands, coming home is sweet. As soon as he hears or sees me come into the house, he yells, "Mama! You back!" He runs to me, crashes into my legs, and hugs my knees. I love it and I don't take it for granted because he won't always be so excited to see me.

cmhl said...

I'm with you--- the kids.

no matter how hard the day was, when I pick them up at school or when I get home, their eyes light up and it is like they haven't seen me in years. it is amazing.

Thumper said...

I come home to dancing kitties. They act like little kids who are just happy to see Mom after she's been out, but truthfully, they're just happy to see my opposable thumbs.

My dad used to take business trips all the time, but honeslty, all I remember of him coming home is wondering if he'd brought me anything :)

ribbiticus said...

nothing beats that warm happy feeling of coming home. i have been fortunate to only have been away from home for 3 weeks at the most (and that was only for a vacation abroad). although i loved having new and exciting experiences, i still somehow longed for the sights and sounds that were so familiar to me. i missed my mom's home-cooking, my bed, my books, my friends, even my dogs. :)

kenju said...

Carmi, I wish every father were as tuned in to his children as you are. Lots of dads who travel seem to be unaware of the effect on their children. Your kids are very, very lucky!

sage said...

I don't travel as much as I use to, but still travel enough that I have no problem sleeping in strange places (including airplanes).

As for coming home, nothing quite compares to a little girl running to you as you pass security at the airport, jumping up knowing that you'll catch her and swing her around. And then going home and being attacked by the dog who gets all excited and even though he weighs 60 pounds, jumps all over you and pretends to be a lapdog.

Kat said...

This was a really great post, and I appreciate the invitation to write more on the subject from my own perspective--hope I'll have time tomorrow.

For some reason, I sleep better away from home than I do in my own bed. Is that weird?

rashbre said...

Its always a tough one being away and being 'in the moment' away and then back 'in the moment' at home. I am sure the soul travels at a differnt speed from the body.

There's two points I usually notice. One is sitting on the plane as we taxi out for the return journey - and the rush from that. And the second one is getting home.

Sitting at home right now.

rashbre

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Beautiful story Carmi. I love the way you talk about your ikids and it is obvious that you love your wife & children with such a HUGE heart...How wonderful, too that they love you back in this way...Their happiness at your being home is so very very dear....

Here from Michele today, dear Carmi.

jennypenny said...

What an amazing picture you have painted yet again Carmi. I am always so impressed when I stop by here and see how you use your words so carefully and thoughtfully. I guess thats why you are a writer! There is no better feeling than coming home and knowing that you and the ones you love the most are safe. Here from Michele's tonight.

Tasha said...

That is a really powerful post. It made me feel....I am not sure LOL. But I wanted to cry. I am with my kids ALL the time. I have been away from my oldest one for a week and missed his first steps. I had been away from both for 5 days when we went on a honeymoon/anniversary. I always missed something, but for some reason my kids never seem like they missed me. It's kinda sad. My older son goes to his Grandma's once a month for like 4 days and when I see him again he is always mad he has to leave her.

Tasha said...

OOPS! Sorry...Michelle sent me:)

Sandy said...

Now you've done it. You've made me cry.

What a beautiful image Carmi. Don't kid yourself. There will be a day, sure, when they don't dance at the door, but long off in the future they're still going to talk about how amazingly lucky they were to have the Dad they did.

Welcome home.

Karen said...

Carmi, I still remember, when I was still a full-time working mom, I returned home after a week at a convention. My then 18-month old son didn't remember who I was. At the time, it was devastating. Now, that little boy is 18 and a college freshman. Cherish the days when they run to the door. They quickly pass.

Daydreamer of Oz said...

Nice to come over & read about something non-political lol...I don't have to travel away from my kids yet but returning to the States after 7 years away last December brought a feeling of complete peace & serenity.

Matt said...

Hmm...I used to qualm about sleeping in strange beds and being not inured to any of the basic necessities of life. But over the years I think I have evolved to become a seasoned traveler. As I have said in a previous response, I sustain that unbreakable filament to the loved ones back home through writing postcards. I wrote my special someone every morning in Thailand when I was having breakfast. Nothing intriguing was that I wrote him but it was the heart behind.

The prospect of air travel, however, still dreads me. I could never look forward to being locked up in a tight cabin for 14 hours as the plane hovers over the Pacific and heads out for the Far East. That I at least do twice a year at least because my family still lives in Hong Kong. Sometimes I have a vague sense of what "coming home" means to me. Where is home? Hong Kong, where my family is? Or is it San Francisco, where I have got my degree and cultivated the most important friendship? Or still, Vancouver, where I have lived during my adolesence?

I always have this fuzzy warm feeling blooming in my chest and spreading to all over my back when the taxi cab takes me home from Hong Kong airport. The ride would be a gradual shift of empty country vista to overwhelming hustle-and-bustle in the city. What really intrigues me is the undertow of childhood memories associated with the street scenes. I guess you can call that home coming. At the same time, I have this checked feeling, a sort of nostalgia of San Francisco and my "other life" there.

Coming home to me means going back into the embrace of loved ones.

panthergirl said...

That was so beautiful, Carmi. I love to travel, but I'm usually ready to come home when it's time.

My kids and I have done some trips together, but I've also traveled quit a bit for business. Sometimes I love having those days to be responsible for no one but myself. I usually stay in nice hotels and eat in great restaurants, but when I come home it just seems like my kids appreciate me more.

These days, traveling usually means leaving Lucas with a friend. That's stressful in and of itself, because I hate imposing on people...but it's also very hard to find someone you trust who can 'babysit' overnight.

What I wouldn't give for Arizona right now though...

Here by way of michele today!

FrogLegs said...

Awwww... you know- i'm not sure about mine- I'm always home first. BUt my 7 yr old gives great hugs & kisses when he see's me- I do love that!

Kimberly said...

Lovely, Carmi - both the sentiment and the writing.

I wrote a now-and-then arriving home story a few days ago.

Killired said...

heartwarming story for me too... makes me tear up thinking about the few times i have been away from the boys and the excitment to come home to them is ... speechless... for about 5 mins.. haha.. then it's back to normal!!!

heck sometimes when i come home from my evening classes, they greet me like they haven't seen me in days... and that is a wonderful feeling...

you know what else is just as heartwarming? when the 2 yr old gives daddy hugs and kisses before he goes off to work... i dont know what it is.. but it's just sweet and could be a kodak moment the way he reaches up and puts his arms around his neck! i think they other reason is cause of daddy in uniform and the fact that he is going to a not so safe job...

thanks for this post.. very nice to read and then reflect on our own experiences!!!!