This past fall, I spent a month in my hometown Chicago, Illinois. As much as I had hoped, it did not feel like the homecoming I had wished for.
I grew up in Round Lake Beach Illinois, a cozy suburb 50 miles north of Chicago. My parents moved there from Chicago proper in the 70's to begin a new life with two young children. At the time real estate was more affordable far north, and many city dwellers were moving there for affordable housing to raise their families.
Last night I looked out my window and noticed a glowing plane traveling high in the night sky. Where was the plane going? What is the story of the people on it? How many miles away? A visceral memory surfaced, one that I remember feeling acutely as a child. This wonderment of seeing planes in the sky never having been on one. Like I wanted it to take me to a destination of ultimate happiness somewhere. The seeking of elsewhere.
I remember being filled with a fascination of life's complexities as a child. I would get hooked on projects and coerce my parents to help me actualize them. I had a long run of staying up all night fostering my creativity (and not telling my parents) then sleeping very late (something as an adult I can't even fathom). I tried to keep this hidden from my parents but eventually they found out and were none too pleased, insisting I go to bed at a reasonable hour. It was the seeking of that wonderment that kept me awake.
I was a complicated child. Highly sensitive right out of the gate-intuitive, thoughtful, imaginative, creative. I was put off by other peoples suffering myself included. I could feel when people were hurting or if they weren't a good person. I could feel when places were haunted. I had a kinetic, intense inner world that often baffled my parents. Could be an explanation of why I became an actor this keen sense of awareness-a blessing and a curse.
There's a beautiful song by Alanis Morrisette called ORCHID. Some of the lyrics:
"I'm a sweet piece of work, well intentioned and unloved.
Unlabeled and misunderstood, treated like a rose when an orchid."
Returning to my hometown I was disappointed to discover it was not the same for me now. I think much of it has to do with both of my parents being gone. I told my sister that going back wasn't the same mainly because they were not there. I know people from childhood who still live in my hometown. I cannot imagine the countless lessons, people and growth I would have missed out on had I never spread my wings. After 10 years of living in New York City and now 5 in Denver the old adage you cant go back to before rings true. When I left Chicago originally I remember thinking it was a closed chapter for me, and to my surprise that perception did not change. On one hand what a beautiful reminder of how it's led to all the thoughts and feelings in between. On the other hand, a bit sad.
The best part was having a mini high school reunion with some of my favorite friends from my formative years. I absolutely loved seeing them (they know who they are!) and learned that maybe your oldest friends can be your dearest since they know you longer and deeper than most. I got to be reunited with lovely people, some great auditions and meetings, and time with my dear friend during her breast cancer treatments. The visit was definitely not a bust! But it also wasn't "home" anymore.
What's next I'm not sure--- but how bad would it be to have a life where you've lived all over? I'm thinking of Seattle next which would be my 4th city. The journey continues in ways you don't always envision. That little Illinois boy staring into the night sky out his bedroom window may still be in here-asleep-deep within by the formalities of being an adult--but whispering assuredly to me how far I've come....and how far is left to go.