I’ve been on the road — no, not touring with the band — traveling for work. You know, the day job. Or, as some musicians call it: the day gig. My day gig as an academic professional means that I occasionally go out of town to “read a paper” at some educational institution somewhere. And, yes, reading a paper sounds about as un-exciting as you can imagine. For academics, it can be a thrill — you know, ideas and things — but for me, this week, it seemed more annoying than thrilling. Giving lectures or reading papers grip me with the same sort of anxiety that used to plague me when I was first starting to play out as a drummer. The major question in my head for both academic and music gigs is: Will I look like an idiot?

Happily, I didn’t this week. There were even positive comments afterwards; I walked away with the satisfied, relieved glow with which I leave some music gigs. But I’m not so much interested today in the lectures or the music gigs. Mostly, I wanted to write about how nice it is to come home.

In the last two weeks I’ve been out of town twice to two different states. I’m not a world traveler so weekly visits to the airport is not usual for me. I’m not a casual, let’s-fly-to- London -this -weekend kind of girl. Flying anywhere is a big deal. I have a friend who used to work in the corporate world and when I once asked how her weekend was, she responded, “It was fine. I was in London.”

“Oh. That’s nice.” I said, feeling distinctly unglamorous.

The next time I asked about her weekend, she said, “Fine. I was in South Africa.”

And the time after that: “Italy,” she said.

It was only after I knew her for a while I realized that despite being in interesting places, she never really got to see them. Most of her time was spent in hotels and meetings. I thought of her in the past few weeks as I returned repeatedly to the airport. Could I have done this for a living?

I think not. I like the comforts of home. I like seeing the daily changes of the leaves turning various shades of red, yellow, and orange before they are swept into my yard by a big rain. I like seeing the women with the baby carriages marching like birds into the Starbucks down the street. I like smelling the bread that bakes in the bakery nearby. And, in my condo-building neighborhood, I like knowing which buildings have come down today.

I am not world traveler. Which is not the same as saying I will not ever travel. I’ll travel, but, for me, knowing that there is a place called ‘home’ makes the traveling more interesting. There is in my mind some place that I can compare every other place to.

So home means 2 cats basking in the front window, a rabbit chewing happily in a cage in the music room, and one husband, lying on the floor of the living room with a Vintage Guitar magazine on his chest and a TV remote beside him. That’s my home. It’s often untidy and usually dusty. Books are piled in corners where they were left once we finished reading them. Cat toys collect dust bunnies around them like nests. The bed is always made, because I can’t feel my day can begin unless the bed is made. Brian, when I am not home, eliminates the need to make the bed by just lying on top of the made bed with a blanket wrapped around him. That is home in all its unrefined, messy glory.

Later, I’ll write more about where I was during the past two weekends. But for right now, I just want to relish where I am, sitting at home at watching two cats sunbathe in a window.

cats in window