Finding Home by Nancy Mugele

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Have you ever been homesick for a place you never knew? I am beginning to feel that way about Italy. Homesickness is experiencing a longing for one’s home during a period of absence from it (dictionary.com), but I believe homesickness can also be a longing for a way of life, or a part of life, and not necessarily a physical place.

I recently read a Reese Witherspoon Book Club selection From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by actor Tembi Locke. This beautiful story takes us on Tembi’s personal journey of love, loss, and healing, with the support of three generations of women, and the preparation of Italian meals in her home in California and her husband’s familial home in Sicily. It is a story about family relationships and how fragile they are. It is also a story of the beauty of the Sicilian countryside. A place that is calling me home for many reasons. (Someone please tell Jim in case he is looking to surprise me with a trip.)

Although she was born in the North End of Boston, my Italian grandmother’s family was from Sicily and my grandfather was born in Bari, Italy. Both have long passed, but thinking of them makes me homesick for a place I knew so well. As a young child I spent a lot of time in their home. My grandmother’s language of love was cooking. I can still smell the aromas wafting from her pots atop the stove, and still feel the warmth of the sun on my face through the window beside the kitchen table. The kitchen counters always held rows of freshly baked cookies. The dining room is where I drank chianti from a tiny water glass as a child (that is another story), and ate lasagna on Thanksgiving, in addition to a huge stuffed turkey! These memories make me homesick for food and family.

For me, the nostalgia began over a week ago when Billy Joel held a concert at Camden Yards. Although I did not attend the performance, instead living vicariously through my daughter’s videos, I listened to Billy Joel music for days leading up to the concert. New York State of Mind made me long for my time in NYC as a young advertising executive. But it was Scenes from an Italian Restaurant that opened the floodgates for traditional food, wine, family, old friends, high school and around the edges of it all, homesickness.

Finding home is sometimes hard amid the fast-paced lives we lead. And, home means so many different things to each of us. Literally, Jim and I have had four homes together but I know the one my children will call home when they are reminiscing. Home is, after all, where the heart is. But, home is also where family is, and as we all know, that changes over time.

I am glad that Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s has a home at Kent School. Six weeks of happiness ended last week and I have to admit I am sad that the students and faculty have left our campus. Welcoming the Horizons teachers in late June was like having extended family coming home for a reunion. I had the pleasure to read aloud to Grades K-2 several times this summer from their all school read Gooseberry Park and the Master Plan. Smiles abounded and I made a lot of new friends!

Kent School is home for me, our faculty, our administrators, and our twelve month employees. It is always heartwarming for me to see faculty on campus in the summer, getting their classrooms ready, collaborating with other teachers on curriculum, helping each other learn new skills, and sharing their professional learning experiences. August first was one such day. The turning of the calendar to August always signals school is on the horizon. The new academic year begins in less than a month and I am starting to get really excited for my fourth year as Head. School is not really home until our students return from summer vacation.

Reflecting on heart and home has pointed me in the direction of the word I will hold before the Kent School community this year. Stay tuned!

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