In the 2000 film Return to Me, a loving husband loses his wife in a freak accident and later falls in love with the woman to whom his wife donated her heart. When the entire film is summarized that way, it sounds like an extraordinary concept; my friends in medical school would no doubt be quick to explain that the heart is an organ that pumps blood, not a center of feelings or the instrument of love.
Yet we have long associated the heart with love, perhaps because it is the heart that gives life to the body just as love gives life to the soul. Indeed, we’ve come a long way since the Middle Ages, when many believed that the source of our feelings was the spleen. (Thus the still-used phrase, “venting one’s spleen.”)
Of course, the heart is also featured in several familiar phrases, and the one I have in mind today is “home is where the heart is.” This phrase, like so many others, refers not to the organ that pumps your blood (after all, we would hope that would be wherever you are), but to love itself. Home is often where your love is, rather than where you are.
I have long had two homes and thus, I suppose, a divided heart. On the one hand, there has always been Milwaukee, home of my family, the church of my growing years, and many of my long-time friends. On the other hand, there is Boston—a more recent development, where I’ve formed many new friendships and where I’ll ultimately spend a total of seven years in school.
This being the case, I’ve spent several years simultaneously enjoying the home where I am and missing the home where I’m not. And no matter which place I find myself returning to on a given flight, I always feel like I’m going home. No doubt many long-time students feel the same way
But in the relatively short time since I last wrote, much has changed. And most of it is due to the state of my heart.
This applies as much to writing as anything else. My original intent in beginning this blog was complex, but much of it was related to the confusion and need for direction I was feeling at the time. At this time last year, a long-term relationship had ended—certainly for the best, as I see now, but this was difficult to grasp then. Last autumn was characterized by a string of bad dates and the beginning of law school, a place I wasn’t sure I wanted to be given the now-changed circumstances surrounding my initial decision to go there. By the time the new year rolled around, I realized that I needed structure and a healthy outlet, and writing was to be the key.
So the writing went along just fine until something more fulfilling came along. By February, just when I had given up on romance (certainly not forever, but for the time being), someone new came along. This someone new was in fact an old friend—indeed, someone with whom I had always been “just” friends, and I never had any reason to expect that this would change.
(Hope? Maybe. But expect? Not a chance… or so I thought.)
Looking back on it now, the whole experience would make for a movie script that (in my humble opinion) would outsell even Return to Me: a romantic weekend enjoying the dizzying opulence that only Manhattan can offer, a first date amidst the flurries of a real New England snowstorm, and a Valentine’s Day that concided (perhaps not coincidentally) with the entire trip. By the time that week in February had ended, it was clear to me that this would not be like any other journey I had taken.
And suddenly, writing seemed a whole lot less interesting.
Oh, I carried on, nearly making it through the end of April, but by then writing had been entirely replaced by another distraction—which in fact was no distraction at all, but my very waking and sleeping and life and breath.
Am I a complete sap? You bet.
But I’m not ashamed of it, not a bit—and I don’t care who knows it.
Especially now that we’re engaged. (!)
You see, by the end of the spring, this had become my entire aim and ambition for the summer: to ask the woman I love to be my wife. All else became secondary, and (needless to say) the writing took a hit. So did several other things, like sleeping enough and staying in touch with my friends.
So I hope you’ll all forgive me.
Because if you knew the woman I’m going to marry, you would completely understand.
She is distilled sunlight, radiating brilliance and warmth. Her smile would melt ice, and has certainly melted my heart. (No comparisons, please.) My astonishment at her incredible kindness and generosity borders on disbelief—and yet every day offers more proof that such an angel does exist. She is loyal and honest, full of good sense and patient understanding, and she is fiercely loving. She is a true honor to her parents and a joy to all who know her exuberant spirit. She is all of this, and she is by far the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Sadly, she is also back in Milwaukee, the home I left today for my other home, where I’ll spend the year preparing a place for her to come after our wedding day.
Leaving was incredibly hard today, and Boston has never felt less like home. The wet and windy weather with which it greeted me seemed to match the current state of my heart. The upcoming months will be a challenge, and both of us know that full well.
Yes, now more than ever before, home is where my heart is, and my heart is not here. But soon enough, home—and my heart—will return to me.
And in the meantime, I’ll be writing again—this time, not because I’m searching, but because I’m missing what I’ve found.