I spent Saturday night at the wedding of a couple I barely knew and it was glorious. It was held on a farm in the couples' home town, in the foothills an hour outside of town. The drive took us through small towns and down two-lane highways, and the venue had an amazing view of the valley floor. Dizzyingly-tall trees surrounded the site on three sides. Two different rainbows stretched across the sky as we celebrated.
After the vows, I got to walk in the woods with my kid and my spouse. When it got dark, I sat near a fire pit with my kid in my lap, looking at the stars. It was the closest I've felt to Mara in months.
Despite the fact that I'm more used to seeing her in her urban guises, despite the attempt I made at gardening this summer, despite even a job in actual banking, what I needed was apparently the kind of wedding I could easily see Mara's followers celebrating in Empty Sky: fresh flowers, a roast pig brought up by two groomsmen in the back of a pickup truck, good-natured drunk kareoke and competitive horseshoes, family and friends and sincerity and a love for the places that made you.
If I'm honest, I've been adrift since I went to see my grandmother, maybe for that reason. I didn't know how to feel about really anything when I was there. I think about the me I was with my grandmother, and how that person's gone now without me really understanding what I lost. There were places and things I loved about the place where I grew up that I'd forgotten about, and visiting was like tearing off that old scar and wondering why it's bleeding afterward.
There are plenty of beautiful, earthy places in the metro area, but I think I needed that system shock to remind me why I feel so at home here where I am. I will always be a product of my tiny hometown, and of my family, and of the northeastern US, even if I no longer remember the person I was when I was there.
However far I may wander and however lost I might be, I always seem to come back to Mara.