COMING HOME: THIS COLUMNIST ONCE MADE IT FROM ISTANBUL TO LUMBERTON (AND BACK) ON A SEVEN-DAY PASS AND JUST $20 IN HIS POCKET.
Somebody once said, “You spend half your life trying to get away from home and the other half trying to get back.”
That was certainly true in my case.
I often hear people say, “When I retire, I’m going to travel.”
My feeling was always, “When I retire, I’m going to stay home.”
You see, my travel was “front-loaded,” courtesy of Uncle Sam.
I had been to 25 countries by the time I was 20, and to more than 100 by the time I was 56.
If it has a sea coast, I’ve probably been there.
That might sound exciting but living out of a sea bag and saying “goodbye” to kith and kin gets old pretty fast.
In his poem, “Les Fleurs du Mal,” the dissipated French poet, Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), might have said: “The true voyagers are only those who leave just to be leaving,” but I don’t think he had anyone to leave behind.
I eventually did, and that’s when “coming home” became much dearer to me.
For example, when my son was 12, I had been gone nine years of his life.
You don’t ever get those years back.
It didn’t bother me when I was a kid in my early days of serving in the Navy. I once came home on a dare, catching military air hops, from Istanbul, Turkey, on a seven-day pass with $20 in my pocket and made it back to the ship on time.
I think I was home in Lumberton for about four hours, and I had been gone for two years.