Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music ...
Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music Education from Truman State. Now retired, Rich enjoyed reading, writing music and short essays. He is the director of Kirksville Community Chorus.
MCKNOTES NO PLACE LIKE HOME
I love to travel, and I’ve been to some really spectacular places. Much of my early travel relates to luck. That is to say that, much of the time, I was able to travel to places I could ill afford, except for the kindness of others. Finally, I am able to finance my own trips, and have even managed to “pay it forward,” and provide occasional opportunities for others.
One thing I’ve learned from my travels is that returning to wherever my home is, at the time, is a good thing. A fairly long stint in Tahiti was exotic and extremely luxurious. I’ve been to London on a number of occasions and always have an exceptional time there. Rome is thrilling due to the ubiquitous expression of art and history. Japan took me to spend time with really dear friends as well as a culture far removed from my Midwest experience.
I lived in Hawaii for seventeen years. That wasn’t travel, but certainly a pleasure unlike any I have known before or since. I was working there, sometimes as many as four jobs at once, but what a beautiful place to face each morning! I have built a truly wonderful group of friends in Southern California. My trips there are filled with exciting experiences as well as special time with people I care about.
Though it’s been a very long time since I was there, I love New York. I recently visited Chicago briefly. I have been to the Grand Canyon and Mt. Rushmore.
I’m not done yet. There are so many places I’d still love to add to my list. I’ve never been to the Caribbean. I have been to Florida, which included the Disney World experience. I’ve been to Northern California and Oregon. One of the most impressive trips was to Washington D.C. That trip was financed by a wedding for which I was asked to provide music. The bride provided connections for me to tour the White House with a Secret Serviceman to meet me at the gate and past the waiting throngs.
It’s great to reminisce about the various places I have visited. No one can ever take away those memories. I’m even writing this from Reno, Nevada. I spent a year in Vietnam, and while it was not by choice, it was truly an enriching experience. The personal cost of that trip was enormous. In terms of finances, it was paid for though. And while I would not have chosen that particular trip, it counts when I remember the exotic and interesting places I have visited.
Soon, I will be headed home. I have lived in a number of places. The first decade and more of my life, I lived in a half basement duplex. It was a two story dwelling that still stands. The upstairs provided our family’s sleeping area. The kitchen and living room were in the half basement, with a yard full of flowers, tended to by a European landlady. The accommodations were modest to say the least, but my family needed little. We went to church three times a week, school every day, and the rest of the time was spent at home. My father, of course, worked long hours to provide for his family in the best way he could, so we were expected to do our part by attending school with regularity. In my twelve years of public schooling, I missed only a handful of days due to illness. Missing school demanded real illness in my family. We learned a work ethic I’m proud of and carry with me to this day, even though I’m retired and no longer have a job that provides for my existence.
I have also lived in college dormitories, fraternity houses, one room efficiency apartments and even in some relatively luxurious places. I have learned that I can make my home wherever it’s necessary, and I can carve out my niche and make it a place to which I am happy to return.
Home requires certain things of us. Having a decent home life demands attention to the details of cleanliness, provisions, comfort and safety. We take these things for granted in many cases. It’s good, however, to reflect on the fact that we have shelter, food, water and familiarity. The familiarity comes with time. Change is difficult for everyone, and can present some difficult challenges for us. Sometimes it gives us a fresh start to rebuild our home and improve our own surroundings.
These days I’m living in a wonderful place that has all of these things required for human beings to feel secure. We don’t really need an armory of weapons to defend our land.
So I’m sitting here this morning thinking about what to write for my blog segment, and the fact is that, while I’m still enjoying myself, this time of travel is coming to a close. I will be grateful to have my own familiar surroundings. If I don’t like the way it feels, I have no one to blame but myself.
I don’t have to click my heels three times or perform any magic to return to my home. The magic is that I have a home and that I have everything I need. And more magic is knowing that I can travel again, and I will, but I’ll always have that special place to which I can return. So Dorothy was right, “There’s no place like home.”