Friday, October 16, 2015

Where Ruby Slippers Lead

My daughter will dress up as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz for Halloween.  In preparation, I ordered an exceptionally cute blue-and-white checked dress for the occasion, straight from Amazon Prime.  There will also be, in all likelihood, a woven basket to hold her small pink, stuffed dog  (who, in the absence of a real Toto, must suffice). There will be cute little pigtails bedecked in blue ribbons.  There will be baby blue, ankle-length socks.  But the most important feature of her outfit, the "piece de resistance," must surely go without saying:  The ruby slippers.  

Arguably the most memorable moment of the classic film occurs when Dorothy clicks the heels of those ruby slippers together three times while chanting, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home."  Perhaps a bit cheesily, I always tear up during this scene.  Maybe it's because I'm a girl.  Maybe it's because of the token background violin music that cues up.  Or maybe it's because I think that the phrase is actually true:  There is no place like home.

Between the two of us, my husband and I have lived in a total of 9 states (10 if you count his summer internship at NASA in D.C).  We've gotten to see some amazing sights, experience a wide variety of the American Subculture, and meet some interesting personalities along the way.  It's been great! 

But for me, Washington State is my home.  There's nothing like that rich evergreen fragrance, the majestic mountains, the coast, and the laid-back-flannel-mountain-biker-with-coffee-in-hand stereotype of the Northwest.  Sigh.  I simply love it there.

And for my husband, Kentucky is his home.  There's nothing like those green, rolling hills dressed up with deciduous trees and horse farms.  Banjos, bluegrass, Bernheim and bourbon.  Nothin' like it.  

But here we are now as residents of -- and I'm still not quite sure if it's really hit me yet -- upstate New York.  Let me say that again just to make sure I heard myself correctly:  Upstate New York.  I vaguely remember learning in grammar school that the capital of New York is Albany, and that was pretty much the extent of my knowledge.  Apart from that, I knew that New York boasted a very large city "that never sleeps"; some kind of summer reclining chair called an "Adirondack"; and lots and lots of brash and noisy people who are always honking their car horns at you.  I remember that my general impressions of the Northeast in general were not positive.  I also vividly remember my husband looking me in the eye a few years back and saying quite distinctly, "I will never move to the Northeast."

God has a quirky sense of humor.  I'm so glad He serves me Humble Pie for dessert when I very clearly ask for Chocolate Cream.

So today marks the one year anniversary of New York State being our home.  It's Fall, and the leaves are changing in glorious splendor, and the mornings are darker, and soon I imagine that snow will be spread across our lawn.  We'll sled on our hill the way we did last year.  Then Spring will come, and Lilia will help our elderly neighbors plant seeds for a new season, and we'll take walks in the rain.  And then there will be Summer and play dates with neighborhood friends and camping trips in the wooded Adirondacks.  Jerry and I will comment again on how New York looks like a combination of his home and mine, a merging of Washington and Kentucky.  We'll pick apples next Fall, Lord willing, and we'll continue to be surprised at how our impressions of this place were mostly wrong.  

Lilia and I discovered a new library today in Scotia, a charming old converted farmhouse with a loquacious librarian.  She energetically told me all about the history of the building and showed me pictures of it spanning the past century.  She smiled when learning that we moved here one year ago today from Oklahoma, and when we left she wished us a good day, "And welcome to the East Coast!"

The funny thing is that we do feel welcome here.  We feel very welcome, and we feel very at home.  It certainly isn't "home" the way Washington is for me and Kentucky is for Jerry.  If I had a pair of ruby slippers on my feet and said those same words, I would be dreaming of the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Rainier and places with names like Skookumchuck, Clackamas and Willamette.  

This is the place, though, that we now call home.  It's been our home now for one year, and we are hopeful that it will remain our home for some time.  Perhaps it will never be to us a Washington or a Kentucky, a place where we wish Ruby Slippers will lead.  I have a feeling, though, that it might come close.