Returning after my U.S. trip, I spent the day at home, rediscovering familiar sights (the bookshelf, the balcony, and in the distance the line of trees, the church spires, the helmet-shaped cottages), sounds (silence, interrupted every so often by a car or a bus passing by, and the call of birds whose names I know nothing of), and smells (the bath towel’s lemony scent, and the lavender of wife’s hair). In the evening, as the sun went down behind the woods, on an impulse I picked up the car keys and took off on a drive. The road signs were recognizable, reassuring, and the slow pace – of automobiles, and of people – bespoke a rhythm of life I’d missed while I was away. On my way back, driving through the darkness (which felt intimate in a strange way), I stumbled upon a radio channel playing Mahler’s ninth, which was followed by an elegy by Elgar; I hadn’t listened to classical music for weeks, and I felt like a parched traveler in a desert who had just dived into a clear lake under a full moon.
Next morning, the good old routine: SWR2 on the Radio, Nescafe Gold instant coffee, Financial Times, (White) bread- (Salted) butter- (Pineapple) jam.
Familiarity is soothing, and the daily routine brings back a much-needed sense of control. The adventure and randomness of travel may be thrilling, but I need the stasis and sameness of home to regain my moorings. There really is no place like home.