52 letters in 2018 (week 14): Go home

Week 14 (April 2-8): Go home.

Friends, I just finished reading the most lovely book: A Gentleman in Moscow. Throughout the book, I hit occasional passages that inspired me to pause, catch my breath, and reread. The author, Amor Towles, beautifully captures the feeling of looking back on one’s life, remembering, and reflecting. For example, he looks back on the possessions we keep and cherish:

For eventually, we come to hold our dearest possessions more closely than we hold our friends. We carry them from place to place, often at considerable expense and inconvenience; we dust and polish their surfaces and reprimand children for playing too roughly in their vicinity—all the while, allowing memories to invest them with greater and greater importance.

And… what is this feeling… longing? Discontent?

Leaning forward, Nina cupped her palms against the glass and squinted. “If only I were there and she were here,” she sighed. And there, thought the Count, was a suitable plaint for all mankind.

And the marvelous complexity of humans:

By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration—and our unwavering determination to withhold our opinion until we have engaged with them in every possible setting at every possible hour.

And going home:

But perhaps for those returning after a long absence, the combination of heartfelt sentiments and the ruthless influence of time can only spawn disappointments. The landscape is not as beautiful as one remembered it. The local cider is not as sweet. Quaint buildings have been restored beyond recognition, while fine old traditions have lapsed to make way for mystifying new entertainments. And having imagined at one time that one resided at the very center of this little universe, one is barely recognized, if recognized at all.


I was reminded of this quote about going home as I drove around Lawrence, Kansas, Thursday evening.

I’ve been wicked homesick the past few months, so this week I’m visiting home, which is the Kansas City and Lawrence area. My first night in Lawrence, as I drove around town, I had the overwhelming feeling that I can’t move back to Lawrence. Each street was the same, and completely different.

I wandered down aisles in the grocery store and could hear the memory of my sweet young daughter singing Abba’s “Dancing Queen” as we picked up dinner after a parent teacher conference. I felt like I was squeezing into the warmth of a coat that no longer quite fits.

On Friday, I poked around the downtown area and soaked in the charm of Lawrence. I had lunch with six friends whom I’ve known for more than 20 years.

friends in lawrenceThen I had coffee with a former running buddy who is now the co-founder of an exciting tech start-up. I had afternoon tea with a couple whom I was happy to join in marriage almost 15 years ago. Finally, I drove to Kansas City to stay with my brother and his family.

What’s a fond memory you have from home? Or what do you love about where you call home at this moment? Share that story in a letter.

  • Week 1 (January 1-7): Send a Happy New Year’s note.
  • Week 2 (January 8-14): Send a Thank You note.
  • Week 3 (January 15-21): Send a postcard from your community.
  • Week 4 (January 22-28): Mail a postcard or letter to another country.
  • Week 5 (January 29-February 4): Mail a Valentine to a pal.
  • Week 6 (February 5-11): Mail a minor.
  • Week 7 (February 12-18): Mail an oldie.
  • Week 8 (February 19-25): Write a note to a pet.
  • Week 9 (February 26 – March 4): Clear out clutter.
  • Week 10 (March 5-11): I see you.
  • Week 11 (March 12-18): Write a letter to yourself.
  • Week 12 (March 19-25): Share a memory.
  • Week 13 (March 26-April 1): Make a list.
  • Week 14 (April 2-8): Go home.