No Place Like It by Jamie Kirkpatrick


So Dorothy went to Oz. There was a lion, a scarecrow, and a tin man; there were witches, good and bad; there were Munchkins, flying monkeys, a horse of a different color, an emerald city, and a field of poppies that made Dorothy and her pals dangerously drowsy; of course there was the Wizard himself, all great and powerful—or so Dorothy thought. But when all was said and done, all her tasks of courage and kindness and intelligence accomplished, Dorothy only wanted one thing: to go home. So she clicked her heels twice, hugged Toto tight, and whispered, “There’s no place like home… there’s no place like home…there’s no place like home.”

And suddenly, Dorothy was back home in Kansas. But here’s the thing: we know she never really left. That nasty Plains tornado knocked her for a loop so when she woke up, she wasn’t really “back” home, she just saw home, along with her friends and family, differently. Auntie Em and all those familiar faces from the farm; the bumbling-but-kind itinerant peddler; her mean neighbor on that rickety old bicycle: nothing had changed, but in some profound, miraculous manner, everything was different. Kansas through new eyes.

Kat and I just returned from two wonderful weeks in France. We spent the first week surrounded by a large gaggle of family and close friends in a chateau in Normandy. For the second week, we took a peek at Provence from Avignon, then hit the big time in Paris. We had wonderful weather. We saw the sights: Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triumph and the Champs-Elysees, the Louvre, the Tuileries and the Luxembourg Gardens. We gaped at fashion, wore scarves, shopped, ate, and drank beyond our means, sat in cafes ’til midnight. On our last night, we went to the Latin Quarter for a creme caramel and a nightcap. We got caught in a downpour (the only rain on our trip!) and darted into a cafe where we listened to a trumpet player’s soulful rendition of “What a Wonderful World” while he stood in the middle of a cobble-stone street, oblivious to the rain pelting down on him, never missing a note. A drink or two later, we splurged, bought an umbrella, and made our damp way back to our lovely apartment in the sixth (thank you Barbara and Miguel!). Woody Allen would have been proud—except he wouldn’t have bought the umbrella.

The next day, we clicked our heels and came back home. (I wish modern travel were really that easy, but for the purposes of this Musing, let’s just pretend it is.) Now life as we knew it is resuming its routines, but in a way, it’s very different this time around. Travel makes more than memories: it’s expansive (in my case, about three pounds expansive); maybe most importantly, travel redraws the lines of the world and allows for alternative ways of looking at and appreciating the most familiar and mundane things in our worlds “back home.”

Home is twice sweet. It’s where the heart is. Now that I’m back home, I think I’ll go over to Evergrain and pick up a fresh baguette. On my way, maybe I’ll stop at Just Right Treats for a pastry or at the Wine and Cheese Shop for some foie gras or pate de compagne, a cheese or two, maybe some cornichons. Then I think I’ll stroll down to the river and have a picnic, or maybe I’ll just wander across the street to The Kitchen, sit myself down at an outside table, and order a glass or two of my favorite rose; Rob knows which one it is.

Paris on the Chester. No place like it.

I’ll be right back.

Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy magazine. “A Place to Stand,” a book of photographs and essays about Landon School, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015.  A collection of his essays titled “Musing Right Along” was released in May and is already in its second printing. Jamie’s website is



Letters to Editor

  1. Lovely
    I enjoyed your Oz metaphor and had to keep reading to see where you would go with it. With Woody Allen lens and your words, I enjoyed my journey with you.

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