Home Again ~ My Cup Runneth Over

Four years ago I was able to visit my hometown for the first visit since 1994, and only a second since 1973. Because I had moved away and left home behind, I did not think it was possible to become suddenly homesick. My thought was to do a brief revisit, take a lot of pictures that I could put in an album, store in my heart, and perhaps frame a few to hang on the wall. It was to be like a rock group’s farewell tour. I had thought that 40 hours, or so, would be enough. Instead what I discovered in that visit, was that it would never be enough. I was the audience, wanting one more song, and the band, wanting the show to keep going, for old times sake, but not just for that.

beach sand water with sun reflecting on the water.
Sunday Morning Sanctuary

The following year I was able to make the trip for a whole week by myself. I had thought I was just going to revisit memories and home. When people would ask, “Are you going to see family?” I simply said, “No, there is no one there, it is just about place, about being and hopefully some writing.”

That was the plan, the expectation, but in the last six weeks before that visit, my life and world got peopled, repopulated, with family I hadn’t known existed (wonderful second cousins), and a childhood friend and his wife. In addition to that, there was a gathering with high school classmates that I really had not known in high school, one I remembered from elementary school, and one from middle school, but I left there with a sense of connection, renewed acquaintances, and new friends.

9 women sitting at a table in a restaurant. They are looking at the person taking the picture. there is silverware, napkins and glasses on the table.
October 2021 Dinner at Lindsey’s Restaurant with some classmates from WHS ’68 and my friend Donna.. Photo courtesy of Nancy Cushman-Rice

That was the trip that fueled my blog and deepened my sense that one trip home to Onset was never going to be enough. I have to approach each trip with the understanding that life can change in a moment’s notice and one should never assume. One can always hope, however, and I will always want one more trip as long as I am physically able to make it.

My trips home to Onset, the short ones, and the week long ones, have been an opportunity to encounter my long lost self. The one who was valued, and loved unconditionally, before layers of life and baggage and roles. In high school, and after, there were times when being known as Jack and Maggie’s daughter seemed burdensome, as though I had no identity of my own.

While I am happy to be someone’s wife, mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, step- mother, and pastor, to name only a few roles, there was something healing and refreshing about being in that place where I was just Michele Marcellino, Jack and Maggie’s daughter.

The Plan

My intent in returning to Onset, has the same foundation as the first full week two years ago, to come home and simply be; to let loose of the busyness and demands I place on myself, to shrug them off like an old coat, and take on the peace of the place and just be. So often, I act as many do, as though I were a ‘human doing’ and not a ‘human being.’

Secondly, I go to write. It is true that I can write anywhere, even in a noisy place, but something about Onset digs deep into my soul, and the old addage, to “Write what you know” holds sway.

The third benefit to returning to Onset is the unexpected gift from 2019, of new connections with “Classmates and cousins,” and two friends who were an important part of my long ago life.

Three women and one man sitting at a table in a restaurant. there are coffee cups on the table.
Photo courtesy of Peter LaBouliere (taken at Stephen’s Lounge, Onset, MA)

Going with the Flow

I return to Onset with hopes, but to the best of my human ability, not assumptions. I hoped to connect with “classmates and cousins” to see the places in Onset that hold so much memory and meaning for me. The main goal for this trip, though, was writing. My good friend Donna and I are in the process of writing a book together. I won’t say much more about the book, until it is done, at least the first final draft, but we are excited.

For a long time in the beginning we would say, “we are trying to write a book…” Chalk it up to fear, realism, a quote from Yoda, perhaps all three. But we have moved from that to saying we are writing. We have certainly hit snags and slow downs. We each have our individual writing projects and life, of course brings its own interruptions. In many ways we are in a better position to make progress with the book now, than a year ago when a family accident cut our trip short.

We live about two hours from each other, but do regular phone check-ins most weeks. Ostensibly to talk about the book, some days we just talk about life and our other projects. Truth, it is easier for me to write a blog post, than to sit and work on the book sometimes. But I think the work we did accomplish this week, and it was a lot, has helped and will help me stick with the story and the discipline needed to write. When I talk about procrastination in writing and other obstacles, do not misunderstand. No one is forcing me to write, it is my own sense of longing. I cannot speak for my friend, though I think she is similarly minded, I left Onset this weekend loving our story and wanting to spend more time with the characters. It is an adventure.

Nostalgia?

If you are looking at a definition of the word “nostalgia” I cannot deny that it describes my return to Onset, again and again. But there is so much more to it than that. This trip, I did not do some of the things I thought I might do. There was no sitting by the canal looking longingly at the water, just stolen glances while crossing canal bridges. I took only a few pictures at the beach, our writing and work together happened differently than I imagined, but it was real, rich, productive, and fun. We are able to hear each other, trust each other to read and edit each other’s work, plan and suggest, create a plan for moving forward. It was it’s own enriching experience. And it was helpful to be away from the everyday realities of our lives, to spend some time together spinning fiction.

We had wonderful visits with people, and really good seafood and pizza. A sub desire of any visit home is eating seafood, that was as good or better than I remembered it. Seafood and pizza, yum.

Photo by Donna Lynn Vaux

I cannot deny that on any visit home, my parents are always close in my thoughts. I did not grow up in a family that visited cemeteries, taking flowers on Memorial Day, or returning for conversations. I am of the mindset that “they are not there.” Yet, when I have only had the opportunity 4 or 5 times in 50 years, so it is something I do when I can. And even though I know that “they are not there,” it felt good to say “thank you and I love you still.”

I am not trying to be fourteen again, or to “bring my parents back” or to live in a fantasy world. What is it about these trips home that is more than nostaliga? It is like looking for my life. Looking back to see what I had left behind, remembering, recovering, and redeeming what was broken and storing reserves, and direction for the rest of my life; the “who am I when I am not a pastor life.” It is about being a sponge, and soaking it all up, reserves for the future. it is about gratitude, more than I can express in a single visit, in a single blog post. Every visit home begins and ends with a stop at the Onset pier and a look a gaze, on Onset Beach, so sharing this picture from the last day, taken by my friend.

Photo by Donna Lynn Vaux

I am so thankful! I am a beach girl from Onset, Massachusetts and I am

Not holding back the tide,

Michele

Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

Published by msomerville2014

About: Michele Somerville is a wife, mother, stepmother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. She lives with her husband and their dog Sheba. Sheba is their fourth rescue dog in 30 years. She is a retired ordained United Methodist Elder and serves two churches part-time in North Central Pennsylvania. She obtained her Bachelors’ Degree in 1999 from Mansfield University and her Master of Divinity in 2004 and Doctor of Ministry in 2016, both from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York. My Doctor of Ministry Thesis was:” Prophetic Words of Grace: Biblical Storytelling in the Local Church.” Michele began writing and performing character monologues for worship in 2008. She began by asking the question about nameless characters in the Bible, “What would they say if they could speak for themselves?” and then using her theological education and experience of the human condition to attempt an answer that is both academic and creative. Much of what you will read here are memories from growing up in a tourist town, in a bar, in the 1960’s, shaggy dog stories about our rescue dogs, life in a small town, and stories of faith and hope. Throughout her life she has lived in many states, including small towns, large towns and cities. She lived in Rota, Spain, for nine challenging months. Despite all the places she have lived since moving away from home in 1970,Michele is at the heart of all things Jack and Maggie’s daughter, and a beach girl from Onset, Massachusetts.

30 thoughts on “Home Again ~ My Cup Runneth Over

  1. Michele, What a beautifully written account of your heartfelt reflections about going home again. I could experience your journey as though I were with you. I am so glad you were able to visit with our classmates, family and friends. Thank you for sharing your
    blog!
    Take care and stay safe, Angela Dunham

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Angela. I am careful to write about my own story and not someone else’s, not without permission, but I would be interested in how life at your parent’s place influenced you. I think at the time Judy (Chepren) Willis’ father owned the Glen Cove. I don’t know if they lived there too or not, but we were on the first floor of the Union Villa. My bedroom was right above the juke box! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Thanks and blessings, Michele

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  2. What a wonderful, insightful, and heartfelt post, Michele. Beautifully written and expressed. I know the feeling from when I return to Belgium, very infrequently. I do have friends and family there (all of them are there, actually), but I also cherish being on my own during those visits and let the memories and feelings flood over me. I’d return to a certain town or place, not because it is beautiful or historical, but because of nostalgia. 🙂

    So nice you took your friend and writing partner with you. Cheers to many re-visits!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I especially wanted you to hear about the week you helped to support. Hoping to write another from a spiritual perspective. However, gearing up for Sunday and in the middle of major annual admin responsibilities, so everything pretty much on the back burner. Will send you an email I don’t want to post here. Thanks and blessings, nothing like fresh salt air. best and blessings, Michele

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  3. There is something abut going back home that is good for the soul. So glad you were able to do it. I just returned from a trip back home to Medicine Hat, Alberta. I feel rejuvenated.

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  4. Hi Michelle.
    This was almost like reading my own story, fictionalized to change names and places. I’m not as drawn to my home town but still value what it gave me. Strong roots somewhere I can still visit and recall the time when. . .
    Thanks for a great read.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A heartfelt post, Michele. How wonderful that you’re writing with your friend and have found the process enriching. Onset sounds like an inspiring writing retreat place for you. Plus family, friends, seafood and pizzas! Thank you for linking up with #weekendcoffeeshare.

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  6. What a wonderful reflection Michele, I enjoyed reading your sentiments and explanations a great deal. Your book with Donna sounds very interesting, all the best with it!

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  7. “What is it about these trips home that is more than nostalgia? It is like looking for my life.” Yes. When I go back to my hometown, I feel like I’m reconnecting with a part of my life that often gets lost, who I was when I was young, before I took on so many of the identities I carry now, when I was just… me.

    It’s wonderful you’ve been able to connect with family and friends as well as your hometown.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This was such a pleasant read! There is something special about going back to your hometown, and I can imagine it is like that also after family is gone. I haven’t been able to go back since the pandemic started and I really want to do that. Most of all to see my parents, of course, but I love to go for walks in the area and in the village. It’s not like home anymore but the place is a part of me and I feel proud of it somehow.

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  9. A touching piece, made me think about the spaces and times when I visit the village of my grand parents. Definitely not a time of trying to catch my youth. More a feeling about a moment in time and the magic that exist in the air that surrounds those places.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. How lovely to have the opportunity to return to your roots again Michele. And also well done on tackling that book – I always wonder how people co-write books, so you’ll have to share that process with us one day in a post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Leanne, I am hoping when the book is finally finished, we will write a post together about what it was like to write together. I joked that after being cooped up in the care together for a 1,000 mile round trip journey and sharing an apartment for the week, that we still like each other and talk with each other. We were together last year for the same, though much shorter trip, when my husband broke his leg and we had to turn around and cover the same distance in 5 days, instead of 11. Donna does not blog, but she is a good writer and very artistic. i have invited her to share a post now and t hen if she would like. And a question: We celebrate Thanksgiving here next week, and Thanksgiving in Canada has already happened (I think) is there a similar tradition in Australia/New Zealand? Best and blessings, Michele

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